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UPDATE 1-Shares in Brazil's Bradesco fall as pandemic hit insurance unit

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(Updates with shares and analysts comments)

By Carolina Mandl

SAO PAULO, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Shares in Brazil's second-biggest lender, Banco Bradesco SA, were down almost 3% on Wednesday morning as the bank's insurance unit took a hit from COVID-19 related claims in the second quarter.

Chief Executive Octavio de Lazari told journalists that the shock is temporary as vaccination roll-out is speeding up in Latin America's largest economy, but analysts wrote notes to clients they were unsure about future performance.

"It is hard to estimate how fast insurance numbers will react," analysts at Banco BTG Pactual said.

Gains within this unit fell 58.3% to 1.574 billion reais ($304 million), as the number of deaths and cases of COVID-19 escalated in Brazil in the second quarter. Bradesco's insurance unit provides health and life insurance.

COVID-19 related claims amounted to 1.848 billion reais in the second quarter, about the same as reported for the entire year of 2020.

"Claims related to COVID-19 are likely to go down by year-end," Lazari said. Still, he pointed out that the insurance unit should account for less than 25% of the bank's results this year, which is its usual contribution.

Bradesco said on Tuesday it sees 2021 insurance gains down between 15% and 20% from last year.

Bradesco reported on Tuesday a recurring net income, which excludes one-off items, of 6.319 billion reais, up 63.2% from a year earlier.

($1 = 5.1790 reais) (Reporting by Carolina Mandl; Additional reporting by Paula Laier; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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