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Letter from the Editor | 305

No census

Every 10 years, IBGE researchers visit every household in Brazil to carry out the national census, collecting demographic and socioeconomic data on the country’s inhabitants. Brazil’s first census took place almost 150 years ago, at a time when one of the questions was whether the individual was free or enslaved.

It is the main source of data on life in the nation’s 5,568 municipalities (plus the Federal District and the Fernando de Noronha archipelago), used as a basis for public policymaking at the municipal, state, and federal levels. It helps the federal government calculate how much money to allocate to each municipality and determine the number of legislative representatives for each state and municipality, as well as helping the private sector make investment decisions, among other uses. And it provides the basis for sample surveys and statistical models used in research by all fields of knowledge. Knowledge produced by academia is often used to subsidize the census data.

The 12th demographic census, initially planned for 2020 and postponed due to the pandemic, is yet to be rescheduled. The apparent lack of interest in obtaining an up-to-date portrait of the country is exacerbated by financial problems. For this issue’s cover story, reporter Christina Queiroz conducted 30 interviews that demonstrate how the Brazilian census has historically been used as the basis for studies seeking to understand changes in the country.

COVID-19 was featured in this section for the first time in April 2020. Since then, part of every issue has been dedicated to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the disease it causes. The many scientific advances made during the pandemic have always been accompanied by the anguish of the growing number of lives lost. The scale of the tragedy continues to reach worrying new heights: if every single character in all of the Pesquisa FAPESP editorials written since the beginning of the pandemic were to honor a person killed by COVID-19, not even 10% of the 500,000 fathers, mothers, daughters, and sons killed before their time in Brazil would be represented. This includes Gláucio Soares, a social scientist and a pioneer of studies on quantitative data in the country.

The obituaries in this month’s issue are especially difficult. Paulo Mendes da Rocha, one of Brazil’s most renowned architects, died of cancer. His interest in the social function of architecture and urbanism was present in his work and in his life.

The scientific community is also mourning the loss of physicist Sérgio Mascarenhas, a researcher, entrepreneur, and institutional coordinator who was one of the founders of the Federal University of São Carlos and Embrapa Instrumentação. Based on his own personal experiences, he created a noninvasive intracranial pressure sensor. He moved between basic research and practical investigations, including the creation of an archaeological dating method.

Among journalists covering science in Brazil, few did not know Mauricio Tuffani, who died prematurely at the age of 63. With experience at various outlets, such as Folha de S.Paulo, Galileo, and the journal Unesp Ciência, which he helped found, Tuffani dedicated his most recent years to investigative work relating to the environment, higher education, and science. He was also on the Editorial Board of this journal. His welcoming smile and generosity will not be forgotten. The Pesquisa FAPESP team mourns all of these losses.