Saturday, December 4

Bolsonaro Branded a ‘Negligent Murderer’ Over Brazil’s Vaccine Planning | Brazil

Jair Bolsonaro is facing a furious backlash over what critics call his “murderous negligence” failure to prepare a coherent coronavirus vaccination program as the death toll in Brazil rises again.

More than 181,000 Brazilians have died from the illness the president calls “a little flu,” and Latin America’s largest economy is hurtling into a painful second wave.

But Bolsonaro’s far-right administration has been slow to explain plans to vaccinate Brazil’s 212 million citizens, betting almost all of its chips on the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine.

Despite having the sixth largest population in the world, Brazil has yet to sign a contract with Pfizer and it has avoided the experimental Chinese CoronaVac vaccine for what many suspect are political motives. The CoronaVac has been championed by the right-wing governor of São Paulo, João Doria, a likely rival of Bolsonaro in the upcoming presidential elections. Observers believe Bolsonaro’s hostility to the Sinovac vaccine is designed to prevent Doria from posing as Brazil’s savior when the vote takes place in 2022.

Experts fear that the strategy could cause thousands of unnecessary deaths by delaying vaccination. “It shows, once again, how disconnected the federal government is from the reality of the pandemic. They still have not understood the seriousness of what we are going through, ”said Natália Pasternak, founder of the Institute for the Question of Science.

Fast guide

How does the Pfizer / BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine work?

to show

The Pfizer / BioNTech Covid vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. Essentially, mRNA is a molecule used by living cells to convert the sequences of genes in DNA into proteins that are the building blocks of all its fundamental structures. A segment of DNA is copied (“transcribed”) into a fragment of mRNA, which in turn is “read” by the cell’s tools to synthesize proteins.

In the case of an mRNA vaccine, the mRNA of the virus is injected into the muscle and our own cells read it and synthesize the viral protein. The immune system reacts to these proteins, which by themselves cannot cause disease, as if they had been transmitted by the entire virus. This generates a protective response that studies suggest lasts for some time.

The first two Covid-19 vaccines that announced the results of the three phase 3 trials were based on mRNA. They were the first to get out of the blocks because, as soon as the genetic code of Sars-CoV-2 was known, it was published by the Chinese in January 2020: companies that had been working on this technology were able to start producing the virus mRNA. Making conventional vaccines takes much longer.

Adam Finn, Professor of Pediatrics at the Bristol Children’s Vaccine Center, University of Bristol

Pasternak said it was reasonable for Brazil to trust AstraZeneca’s shot: “The problem was betting only on them and not closing other deals, knowing that even the AstraZeneca deal [for 100m doses] it would not be enough to vaccinate the entire population ”.

“Brazil has put all its eggs in one basket,” Pasternak said, calling the government’s decision to turn its back on CoronaVac as “absurd.”

This weekend Brazilian newspapers joined in their response after the publication of a health ministry vaccination plan, that dozens of consultants stated that they had not approved. The document outlined a five-month plan to vaccinate 51 million members of priority groups such as healthcare professionals and the elderly, but did not contain a start date for a larger program.

In a scorching cover editorial, Folha de São Paulo criticized Bolsonaro’s “homicidal negligence”, claiming that Brazilians had been “abandoned by the government” and condemned to “watch with anguish” while vaccination began elsewhere.

“Bolsonaro’s murderous stupidity about the coronavirus pandemic has crossed every line. It is time for you to abandon this criminal recklessness and at least claim to have the ability and maturity to lead a nation of 212 million at such a dramatic time in your collective history. Enough of the vaccine nonsense! declared.

The State of São Paulo attacked Bolsonaro “Lethal incompetence”, writing: “We do not know how many vaccines the federal government will have, or when. There are signs that there will be a shortage of needles. And the [health] The ministry is reluctant to negotiate viable options like CoronaVac … for blatantly political reasons. “

“There is not a single aspect of the management of this crisis that has not been contaminated by the obscurantism, negligence, incompetence or dishonesty of the president or his puppet in the Ministry of Health,” he added.

Unusually strong criticism followed the harsh words of the president of Rio’s medical and surgical society after one of its most distinguished members died from Covid-19. In a public tribute He criticized the “simply murderous” coronavirus response and the “myopia, inhumanity, negligence and criminal irresponsibility” of Brazilian leaders.

On Saturday, one of Brazil’s leading political observers, Elio Gaspari, declared the coronavirus “Bolsonaro’s own Chernobyl,” comparing his denial of Covid-19 to Soviet efforts to cover up the 1986 disaster. Another, Jânio de Freitas , said the “vaccine disaster” was the subject of charges.

Daniel Dourado, a lawyer and public health expert, agreed that Bolsonaro’s “disastrous” reaction justified an immediate impeachment: “It is one outrage after another. Dilma Rousseff was removed for much less ”.

But surprisingly, the public’s mood had not yet turned significantly against Bolsonaro, Dourado added. An agreement with a bloc notoriously interested in center-right parties called “centrão” has ensured that calls for impeachment have not been successful.

“At the beginning of the pandemic I thought that as soon as many people started dying, he would be finished. But 180,000 have died and he is still there, ”said Dourado. “We are talking about impeachment, but Congress is not.”

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