- BBC News World
Brazil’s Supreme Court opened an investigation on Friday into President Jair Bolsonaro’s comments in which he erroneously stated that covid-19 vaccines can increase the chances of developing AIDS.
The remarks, made during a live broadcast on social media in October, resulted in Facebook and YouTube enforcing their fake news policies and temporarily banning him from the platforms.
Bolsonaro has often cast doubt on the efficacy of vaccines.
The president is already facing another investigation for his handling of the pandemic.
What did Bolsonaro say?
During a live broadcast on October 24, Bolsonaro said that reports “suggest that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are developing acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) much faster than expected.”
Cscientists and doctors strongly rejected la statement.
The president, who has refused to be vaccinated, defended his comments, saying he was simply quoting a magazine article.
What does the investigation consist of?
This Friday, Supreme Court judge Alexandre de Moraes ruled that Bolsonaro “used the modus operandi of mass dissemination schemes on social networks “, which requires further investigation.
De Moraes instructed Brazil’s attorney general, Augusto Aras, to try to establish whether the president’s comments are linked to a group of his supporters who are currently being investigated for the large-scale production of fake news.
The group, known in local media as the Office of Hate, has spread misinformation throughout the pandemic and called for a military coup that would give Bolsonaro, a former army captain, unlimited powers to rule the country.
Investigations into the group have already led to the arrest of several of the president’s allies, including Roberto Jefferson, leader of the right-wing Brazilian Labor Party.
Why else are they investigating Bolsonaro?
Bolsonaro has come under heavy pressure in recent months and has faced a series of political crises that have taken a toll on his popularity.
In October, after presenting a 1,289-page report, a special investigative panel of the Brazilian Senate recommended charging the president with nine crimes, including Crimes against humanity, for their response to the pandemic.
Bolsonaro has said that he is “guilty of absolutely nothing.”
The death toll in Brazil from covid-19 is the second highest in the world, behind the United States. More than 615,000 people have died and 22.1 million have been infected with the virus, although the true numbers are feared to be much higher.
In March, when deaths spiked, the president told Brazilians to “stop whining” and downplayed the threat of the virus, as the health system was paralyzed by the crisis.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.