americas

Study finds that Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro carried out an ‘institutional strategy to spread the coronavirus’

Investigation by NGO Conectas Derechos Humanos and São Paulo University has sought out the reasons behind the country’s Covid-19 death toll of more than 212,000 victims, as well as documenting the statements made by the president about the pandemic, vaccines and controversial ‘cures’

Cemetery workers burying a coronavirus victim in Manaus, Amazonas state, Brazil, on January 6.
Cemetery workers burying a coronavirus victim in Manaus, Amazonas state, Brazil, on January 6.Edmar Barros / AP

The grimmest timeline in the history of public health in Brazil emerges from an investigation of directives issued by the government of President Jair Messias Bolsonaro relating to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a common effort undertaken since March 2020, the Center for Research and Studies in Public Health Law (CEPEDISA) of the Public Health College (FSP) of the University of São Paulo (USP) and Conectas Direitos Humanos, one of the most respected justice organizations of Latin America, have collected and scrutinized federal and state regulations relating to the novel coronavirus, producing a brief titled Rights in the Pandemic – Mapping and Analysis of the Legal Rules in Response to Covid-19 in Brazil. On January 21, they put out a special edition making a strong statement: “Our research has revealed the existence of an institutional strategy to spread the virus, promoted by the Brazilian government under the leadership of the President of the Republic.”

Obtained exclusively by EL PAÍS, the analysis of the production of ordinances, provisional measures, resolutions, normative instructions, laws, decisions and decrees by the federal government, as well as a survey of the president’s public speeches, draws the map that has turned Brazil into one of the countries most affected by Covid-19 and that, contrary to other nations, still lacks a vaccination program with a reliable timetable. There is no way of telling how many of the more than 212,000 Covid deaths in Brazil might have been avoided if the government led by Bolsonaro had not executed a project with a view to spreading the virus. But it can reasonably be said that many people would still have their mothers, fathers, siblings or children alive today were it not for the existence of an institutional project by the Brazilian government to spread Covid-19.

There is an intention, a plan and a systematic course of action contained in the government rules and in Bolsonaro’s speeches, as the study shows. “The results dispel the persistent interpretation that there was incompetence and negligence from the federal government in the management of the pandemic. On the contrary, the systematization of data, although incomplete due to the lack of space for publishing so many events, reveals the government’s commitment and efficiency in favor of the widespread dissemination of the virus over the Brazilian territory, clearly stated as having the objective of restarting economic activity as soon as possible and at whatever cost,” says the publication’s newsletter. “We hope this timeline provides an overview of a process we are undergoing in a fragmented and frequently confusing fashion.”

The research was coordinated by Deisy Ventura, one of the most respected legal scholars in Brazil, researcher on the relations between pandemics and international law, and coordinator of the doctorate program in public health and sustainability of USP; Fernando Aith, chair of the Department of Policy, Management and Health of FSP and director of CEPEDISA/USP, a pioneering research center on health law in Brazil; Camila Lissa Asano, Program Coordinator of Conectas Direitos Humanos, and Rossana Rocha Reis, professor of the Political Sciences Department and the Institute for International Relations of USP.

The timeline is composed of three axes presented in chronological order, from March 2020 to the first 16 days of January 2021. The first is regulatory acts of the Union, including regulations adopted by federal authorities and agencies and by presidential vetoes; the second, acts of obstruction to the state and municipal governments’ responses to the pandemic; and the third, propaganda against public health, describing it as “a political discourse that mobilizes economic, ideological and moral arguments, besides fake news and technical information lacking scientific proof, with the aim of discrediting public health authorities, weakening public adherence to health advice based on scientific evidence, and promoting political activism against the public health measures needed to contain the spread of Covid-19.”

The study’s authors note that the publication does not include all the regulations and statements collected and stored in the research database, but a selection of them, with a view to avoiding repletion and presenting the most relevant for analysis. The data was selected from the database of the project Rights in the Pandemic, from jurisprudence of the Supreme Federal Court (STF) and the Federal Court of Accounts (TCU), as well as official documents and speeches. The axis defined as “propaganda” also included a Google search for videos, posts and news.

The analysis shows that “the majority of deaths would have been avoidable with a strategy to contain the disease, and that this constitutes an unprecedented violation of Brazilians’ rights to life and to health.” And that this took place “without any of the administrators involved being held responsible, although institutions such as the Supreme Federal Court and the Federal Court of Accounts have countless times pointed out federal administrators’ conscious and deliberate conduct and omissions that clash with the Brazilian legal order.” It also highlights “the urgency of an in-depth discussion of the configuration of crimes against public health, crimes of responsibility and crimes against humanity committed during the Covid-19 pandemic in Brazil.”

Bolsonaro’s deeds and words are well known but end up being diluted in the day-to-day reality fed by the production of factoids and fake news, in which the war of hatred is also a strategy to cover up a consistent and persistent project that forges ahead as the temperature of exchanges is kept at a high level on social media. The publication of the report causes shock and unease because it systematizes the explicit production of evils put in action by Bolsonaro and his government over almost a year of the pandemic. One of the investigation’s greatest merits is precisely that it has articulated the president’s many official measures and public speeches in the timeline. From this meticulous analysis, the plan emerges with all its phases duly documented.

The analysis also shows up clearly which populations are the major targets of the attacks. Besides Indigenous peoples, to whom Bolsonaro has even denied drinking water, a series of measures has been taken to deny workers the chance of protecting themselves from Covid-19 and isolating. The government has extended the concept of essential activities to include even beauty salons and has sought to deprive various categories of workers of the right to the emergency aid of 600 reals provided by Congress. At the same time it attempted to put in place a double standard in the treatment of health workers: Bolsonaro has entirely vetoed a project that offered financial compensation to workers incapacitated as a consequence of their work in containing the pandemic, while trying to relieve public sector workers of any responsibility for acts and omissions regarding Covid-19. In short: the hard and high-risk work of prevention and fight against the pandemic is discouraged, while failure to act is stimulated.

By withholding resources appropriated for the fight against Covid, the government has hindered patient care in the state and municipal public healthcare systems. A constant war is being waged against governors and mayors who try to implement measures to prevent and fight the virus. Bolsonaro uses vetoes to cancel out even the most basic measures, such as the compulsory use of masks inside establishments authorized to operate. Many of his measures and vetoes were later overturned by the Supreme Federal Court (STF) or Congress.

This is another important point: the analysis of the data also highlights how much more tragic Brazil’s situation might be if the STF and other bodies had not stopped several of the virus-disseminating measures enacted by the government. Despite the frailty shown by institutions and society, there is a visible effort on the part of the main actors to attempt to neutralize or cancel out Bolsonaro’s actions. It is possible to project how much these efforts, added and associated with a government that was willing to prevent the disease and fight the virus, might have done to prevent deaths in a country that possesses the Unified Health System (Sistema Único de Saúde, or SUS). Instead of this, Bolsonaro has unleashed a war in which a large part of institutions’ and organized society’s energy has been wasted to reduce the damage caused by his actions, instead of focusing on fighting the greatest public health crisis in a century.

Almost a year on since the first case of Covid-19, it is yet to be seen whether the institutions and society not in collusion with Bolsonaro will be strong enough, faced with the map of the institutional actions to spread the virus, to finally put a stop to the agents disseminating the virus. The use of the state machine to promote destruction has been decisive in bringing about the present reality of more than a thousand graves dug every day for people who could still be alive. More than 60 requests for the impeachment of the president have been presented to the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia (DEM party). At least three requests have been sent to the International Criminal Court linking genocide and other crimes against humanity to the actions of Bolsonaro and members of his government regarding the pandemic. The next few weeks will be decisive for Brazilians to state who they are and how they will respond to future generations when asked what they were doing while so many people were dying of Covid-19.

Set out below are the main points in the timeline of the actions taken by Jair Bolsonaro and his government.

March 1-7, 2020, epidemiological week 10

Total cases: 19 | Deaths: 0

“A small crisis

An ordinance from the National Foundation for Indigenous Peoples (FUNAI) tries to open a loophole for non-Indigenous people to access Indigenous lands, “on an exceptional basis”, to undertake “essential activities” in isolated peoples’ territories. The measure seeks to use Covid-19 as a backdoor to access communities that have never had contact with non-Indigenous people (nor with their viruses and bacteria) or who have decided to live without contact.

What Bolsonaro says:
We obviously have a crisis now, a small crisis. In my opinion, the coronavirus issue is mostly a fantasy. It is not all that the mainstream media is claiming throughout the world

This quote is from March 7, during a trip to Miami, Florida, one of the worst-hit states by the pandemic in the US. At least 23 people from the Brazilian president’s entourage were infected during the trip.

The wrong part in all of it is the hysteria, it’s acting like this is the end of the world. A nation like Brazil will only get rid of it when a certain number of people become infected and create antibodies

A quote from March 17, said during an interview with a radio station from Río de Janeiro.

Soon, the people will know that they were deceived by the state governors and by a large part of the media on this coronavirus issue

A quote from March 22, during another radio interview with a broadcaster in São Paulo.

In my specific case, due to my background as an athlete, were I to be infected by the virus, I wouldn’t have to worry, I wouldn’t feel anything or, at most, I would feel like I caught a little flu or a little cold

A quote from March 24, uttered during an official statement made on live television.

Brazilians should be studied, they don’t catch anything. They can jump into sewers, just go and dive into them, and nothing happens to them

Quote from March 25, said during a spontaneous rally outside the Palacio de la Alvorada, the presidential residence in Brasilia.

The virus is there. We’re going to have to face it, but face it like a man, damn it. Not like a kid. Let’s face the virus with reality. That’s life. We all die one day

Quote from March 29, said during a walk through the Brazilian capital.

April 5-10, epidemiological week 15

Total cases: 20,818 | Deaths: 699

Change of minister

Former Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta.
Former Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta. UESLEI MARCELINO / Reuters

Bolsonaro dismisses the health minister during the pandemic. Luiz Henrique Mandetta is a doctor as well as a politician. The main reason for his dismissal is a disagreement over the use of chloroquine and actions guided by the World Health Organization (WHO) advice. According to Mandetta, at the end of March, the president began looking for advisors who would stand beside him in opposing the Health Ministry’s data and strategy: “Bolsonarista doctors began to make frequent visits to the Planalto Palace. [...] [Bolsonaro] wished to be surrounded by people who would say what he wanted to hear. [...] He was never concerned with proposing chloroquine as a path to health. His concern was always, ‘Let’s offer this medicine because with this little box of chloroquine in hand, workers will return to work, they’ll be back to production.’ [...] His project to fight the pandemic is to declare that the government has the medicine and whoever takes it will be fine. The only ones to die will be those who were going to die anyway.”

Congress approves the emergency aid of 600 reals, in a parliamentary measure that a majority of those benefited mistakenly associate with Bolsonaro, leading to a rise in popularity for the president.

What Bolsonaro says:
Are you scared of catching the virus? I’m just kidding. This virus is something 60% of the people will get, or 70%. [...] I don’t know of any hospital that is full

Quote from April 2, said to his followers outside the Palacio de Planalto, the home of executive power in Brasilia.

I have been talking about the use of hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of Covid-19 for 40 days. The use of chloroquine is increasingly found to be effective

A tweet from April 8.

Nobody will stop me from coming and going as I please

Quote from April 10, during a walk that turned into a large crowd in Brasilia. Bolsonaro went out onto the streets in defiance of the decisions made by some state governors to implement isolation measures and restrict free movement.

It seems that this virus issue is starting to fade away

Quote from April 12, said during a video conference call with religious leaders to celebrate Easter.

I am not a gravedigger

Quote from April 20, during a press conference at the Palacio de la Alvorada. This was Bolsonaro’s response to a question about the deaths caused by Covid-19.

So what? Sorry about that, what do you want me to do? My name may be Messias [Messiah], but I work no miracles

Quote from April 28, uttered during an interview. Bolsonaro was referring to his second name in response to a question about the number of deaths.

May 2-9, epidemiological week 19

Total cases: 155,939 | Deaths: 3,877

War on the states

Bolsonaro with former Health Minister Nelson Teich.
Bolsonaro with former Health Minister Nelson Teich.Joédson Alves / EFE

Bolsonaro resorts to decrees to boycott the measures set out to prevent and fight Covid-19 in the states and municipalities. With this aim, he expands the concept of what is an essential activity during a pandemic and that can therefore continue to operate despite the increasingly deadly public health emergency. Thus the sectors of construction, beauty salons and barbershops, gyms and sports centers of all types, besides industrial services in general, all become “essential activities.”

The president also seeks to exempt public officials from civil or administrative liability for acts or failures to act in the fight against the pandemic. Bolsonaro also vetoes the monthly emergency aid of 600 reals instituted by Congress, not allowing it to be given to subsistence fishermen, taxi drivers, ride-share drivers, school-bus drivers, delivery people, self-employed physical-education professionals, street vendors, street market vendors, waiters, nannies, manicurists, hairdressers and hired teachers not receiving wages. Under the law passed by Congress, these categories of workers would be included in the emergency aid, allowing them to self-isolate to protect themselves from the virus.

The new health minister, Nelson Teich, a doctor, resigns, saying: “I won’t stain my record because of chloroquine”. General Eduardo Pazzuelo takes over the post on an interim basis. In an official ceremony, the general says that before taking office he “didn’t even know what the SUS was,” in reference to the Brazilian health system. The ministry becomes increasingly militarized. In all cases of Covid-19, Health Ministry protocol requires the use of chloroquine – a drug that has been proven ineffective against the novel coronavirus.

Bolsonaro launches a war on state governors. The National Health Council (CNS) claims that more than 8 billion reals appropriated for the fight against the pandemic have failed to be sent to states and municipalities, that suffer from the lack of basic supplies, respirators and hospital beds. CNS launches a campaign with the slogan “Send on the money now!”

What Bolsonaro said:
I would like everyone to go back to work, but I don’t make that call, it is up to the state governors and mayors

Quote from May 1, during a message broadcast live for Worker’s Day.

This is a neurosis. 70% of the population will catch the virus. There is nothing I can do. It’s madness

Quote from May 9, during a jetski ride on Lake Paranoá, in Brasilia.

If this is true, it’s war. If you want me to, I will go to São Paulo, you have to fight against the governor

Quote from may 14, during a videoconference call organized by the Federation of State Industries in São Paulo. Bolsonaro incited business leaders to fight against the lockdown implemented by governor João Doria.

I’m sorry for the deaths, but that’s reality. We are all going to die here. There will be nobody left here. [...] And whoever dies in the middle of the field will be eaten by vultures. [...] Why should we bring terror to the people? Everybody is going to die. Those who are old and weak will have a hard time if they contract the virus. Those who have prior diseases and comorbidities will also have a hard time. These people should be isolated by their families, the state cannot watch over everyone

Quote from May 22, uttered during a speech outside the Palacio de Planalto

We can’t go on like this. We know that we should be concerned with the virus, especially for the elderly, for those who have diseases, for those who are weak, but [without] this talk of closing the economy. The economy has been shut down for 70 days now. How long will this last?

Quote from May 26, during an interview.

June 7-13, epidemiological week 24

Total cases: 850,514 | Deaths: 42,720

Data blackout

Bolsonaro incites his followers to invade hospitals and film what they see, justifying it by saying the numbers of patients and occupied hospital beds have been inflated. On June 3, the government releases data on Covid-19 late, after 10pm. On June 5, the Health Ministry’s site goes offline, returning next day only with the data relative to the last 24 hours. The media denounces the attempted coverup of the number of patients and deaths from Covid. Society loses trust in official data, and six of the major newspapers and news sites in the country – G1, O Globo, Extra, O Estado de S. Paulo, Folha de S.Paulo and UOL – form a consortium to record the numbers of the pandemic.

What Bolsonaro says:
Find a way to get inside and film it. Many people are doing this, but more people have to do it to show whether the beds are occupied or not, if the expenses are compatible with reality or not

Quote from June 10, during a live Facebook broadcast.

July 5-11, epidemiological week 28

Total cases: 1,839,850 | Deaths: 71,469

Vetoes

Bolsonaro vetoes the mandatory use of masks in shops and industrial sites, churches and temples, schools and other enclosed spaces hosting gatherings of people. He also bans fines on establishments that don’t provide 70% alcohol hand sanitizer in spots close to entrances, elevators and escalators.

Bolsonaro vetoes the obligation of establishments operating during the pandemic to supply individual protection face masks to their employees and contractors, free of charge. And he vetoes the obligation to display posters with information on the correct use of face masks and individual protection in prisons and socio-educational establishments.

Bolsonaro vetoes measures to protect Indigenous communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. Among these measures: access to drinking water, cleaning and personal hygiene supplies, hospital and ICU beds, ventilators and blood-oxygenation machines, as well as information materials on Covid-19 and internet service in Indigenous villages. He also vetoes the obligation of the Union to distribute food to Indigenous peoples during the pandemic, in the form of basic foodstuff packages, seeds and farming tools.

The army pays 167% over the regular price for the main ingredient of chloroquine, justifying its action by saying: “Producing hope for anguished hearts”.

Criticizing the militarization of the Health Ministry, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Gilmar Mendes, describes the federal government’s response to the pandemic as “genocide.” “We can no longer tolerate what is happening in the Health Ministry. [...] This needs to be stated very clearly: the army is aiding and abetting this genocide. It is not reasonable. It has to end.”

What Bolsonaro said:
I’m sorry about the deaths. People die every day for many reasons. That’s life

Quote from July 30, uttered in the midst of a crowd in Bagé, a city in the Río Grande del Sur state. Bolsonaro, who several days earlier had announced that he no longer had the coronavirus, asked the assembled citizens: “What are you afraid of? Face up to it.”

August 2-8, epidemiological week 32

Total cases: 3,012,412 | Deaths: 100,477

Attacking the vaccine

Bolsonaro vetoes the entirety of the bill that determines the federal government should pay financial compensation to health workers and professionals who are incapacitated due to their role in the fight against Covid-19.

The Bolsonaro government ignores Pfizer’s proposal. The company had offered to guarantee the delivery of the first lot of vaccines by December 20, 2020.

Two months after the offer was made, the Health Ministry refuses a donation of at least 20,000 PCR test kits for Covid-19 made by the company LG International.

What Bolsonaro says:
I am living proof that [chloroquine] worked. Many doctors advocate this treatment. We know that more than 100,000 people died in Brazil. If they had been treated back then with this drug, these lives [sic] could have been avoided

Quote from August 13, spoken during an event in the northeastern state of Pará.

In my understanding, all things considered, I did not see anyone in the world who faced this issue better than our government

Quote from August 19, spoken during the signing of provisional measures for access to loans for small-business owners.

“If [chloroquine] had not been turned into a political matter, many more lives could have been saved out of the 115,000 the country has lost so far. [...] Some people change doctors, I changed ministers. [Nelson] Teich came in and stayed for 30 days, and then, in order to avoid further changes, I nominated an interim minister, Eduardo Pazuello. [...] Pazuello decided to change the orientation and included [the instruction] ‘in any situation, prescribe chloroquine,’ so that doctors could have their freedom”

Quote from August 24, spoken during an official event that the government called, “Brazil is defeating Covid-19.”

When one of you suckers gets [Covid-19], your chance of survival is much lower than mine

Quote from August 24, directed at journalists during the aforementioned event.

Regarding the vaccine, no one can force anyone to get a vaccine

Quote from August 31, stated during a conversation with his followers in the gardens at the presidential residence.

September 6-12, epidemiological week 37

Total cases: 4,315,687 | Deaths: 131,210

A general heading the Health Ministry

A resolution from the Collegiate Directory of the National Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa) further facilitates the prescription of ivermectin and nitozoxanide, so pharmacies no longer need to retain the doctor’s prescription. The drugs are advertised by the government as being effective against Covid-19, but scientific studies show they neither reduce the severity of the disease nor prevent patient deaths. General Eduardo Pazuello is confirmed in the post of health minister.

What Bolsonaro says:
We are pretty much defeating the pandemic. The government did everything it could to minimise its negative effects, helping mayors and governors with their health-related needs

Quote from September 11, said in the midst of crowds in Bahía.

October 4-10, epidemiological week 41

Total cases: 5,082,637 | Deaths: 150,198

“Chinese vaccine”

Bolsonaro says the dimensions of the pandemic have been overstated and lies, saying that chloroquine ensures a 100% cure if taken from the start of the symptoms. He cancels the purchase of 46 million doses of the Chinese vaccine Coronavac by the Health Ministry, saying: “The Brazilian people will not be anyone’s guinea pig.”

What Bolsonaro says:
We entered 2020, and we had the pandemic problem, which, in my understanding, was exaggerated

Quote from October 14, during an official ceremony.

In Brazil, [if you] take chloroquine at the onset of symptoms, [you have] a 100% cure

Quote from October 24, said to French visitors in the Palacio de la Alvorada.

Everyone says that the vaccine that took the least time until now took four years to make. I don’t know why we should rush over this

Quote from October 26, said during a conversation with his followers on the doorstep of the presidential residence.

The pandemic in brazil is ending. I think [João Doria, São Paulo state governor] wants to vaccinate people quickly because [the pandemic] will end and then he will say, ‘It ended because of my vaccine.’ The only thing that is ending is his administration, that’s for sure. [...] What do I see regarding the pandemic issue? It’s going away, this has already happened, we see it in history books

A written statement published on October 30 by a webpage that backs the president.

November 1-7, epidemiological week 45

Total cases: 5,653,561 | Deaths: 162,269

Factory of falsehoods

Despite all the facts and numbers showing the opposite, Bolsonaro insists that Brazil is one of the countries that has been less affected by the pandemic. He continues to attack the vaccine.

What Bolsonaro says:
This second wave thing, is it true or not? Or is it supposed to sink the economy for good? [...] I take the opportunity... municipal elections… people don’t care so much about mayors and city councillors, but it’s important to worry and vote well. The mayor has shut everything down, if you think he did it right, reelect him. Otherwise, change [your vote]. [...] The tourism sector has failed, right? Who said to shut it all down and stay home? It wasn’t me, right? To make it clear, the destruction of employment in Brazil, who did that?

A quote from November 9, from a statement released via the president’s YouTube channel.

“Everything right now is pandemic this, pandemic that. Come on, this has to stop. I am sorry for the dead, I am. We’ll all die one day. There’s no use trying to escape it, to escape reality. We can no longer be a country of sissies, come on

Quote from November 10, said during an official ceremony.

Death, disability, anomaly. This is the vaccine that Doria wanted to force all Paulistanos to take. The president has said the vaccine could never be mandatory. Another win for Jair Bolsonaro

A statement released via Facebook on November 10. WIth these words, Bolsonaro was celebrating the suspension of the coronavac vaccine tests in São Paulo.

The issue with masks [is that] one day there will still be a serious study on the effectiveness of masks... that is the last taboo left to be broken

Bolsonaro said this during a live broadcast on November 26.

December 6-12, epidemiological week 50

Total cases: 6,880,127 | Deaths: 181,123

What’s the plan?

Bolsonaro announces he will not take the vaccine and acts to spread panic in the population, alluding to terrible side effects. In response to questioning by the Supreme Federal Court, the Health Ministry presents the National Plan for putting Vaccination into effect. But the government still has no vaccines to offer, nor a reliable vaccination timetable. Eleven former health ministers from different political parties publish an article criticizing “the Health Ministry’s disastrous and inefficient conduct regarding the Brazilian strategy for vaccinating our population against Covid-19”. There is still no emergency plan for the Indigenous peoples. Supreme Court justice Luis Roberto Barroso says: “It’s shocking that today, after almost 10 months of the pandemic, the Union has still not managed the bare minimum: to offer a plan with the essential elements. This situation continues to pose a risk to the life and health of the Indigenous peoples.”

What Bolsonaro says:
The pandemic is truly coming to an end

A statement made on December 10, during the opening of a project in Porto Alegre.

I’m not getting a vaccine, period. Is my life at risk? That’s my problem

Quote from December 15, during a “technical visit” organized by a company in São Paulo, and that brought together hundreds of Bolsonaro followers with no safety measures.

In the middle of this package leaflet, it says the company is not responsible for any side effects. This makes a yellow light turn on. We start asking people: are you going to get this vaccine?

Quote from an interview on December 16.

The Pfizer contract states very clearly that ‘[Pfizer] are not responsible for any side effects’. If you turn into an alligator, that’s your problem [...] If you become Superman, if some woman is born with a beard, or if a man starts to have a high voice, [Pfizer] have nothing to do with it

A quote from December 18.

The pandemic is truly coming to an end. We have a small upward bump now, which is a small spike that can happen, but the rush for the vaccine is not justified. [...] They will inoculate something into you. Your immune system can react, in an unforeseen way even

Quote from December 19, during an interview with one of his children broadcast via YouTube.

January 2021, up to the 16th

Total cases: 8,455,059 | Deaths: 209,296

Death from suffocation

The Foreign Affairs Ministry says it has bought two million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India. Over the following days the federal government organizes a major propaganda operation, including a massive effort of dissemination on the news media, as well as stickers attached to an Azul Linhas Aéreas company Airbus that would undertake a “historic trip”, with the slogan: “Vaccination – Brazil immunized – We are one nation”. Bolsonaro actually sends a letter to the Indian Prime Minister requesting urgency in sending the doses, but India suspends the operation. Faced with the collapse of the health system in Manaus, with patients dying of suffocation for lack of oxygen in the hospitals, the health minister, general Eduardo Pazuello, says: “What are you going to do? Nothing. You and everyone will wait for oxygen to arrive and be distributed”.

Bolsonaro vetoes part of the Complementary Law no. 177 of January 12, 2020, approved by a large majority in the Senate (71 votes to 1) and the Chamber of Deputies (385 to 18). According to Agência FAPESP, presidential vetoes have diverted 9.1 billion reals in investments in science, technology and innovation this year, stopping Brazil from developing a vaccine against Covid-19, despite the country possessing sufficient infrastructure and human resources. The academic and business communities mobilize to overturn the vetoes.

What Bolsonaro says:
Brazil is broke, man. I can’t do anything. I wanted to change the income tax rates, alright, then there was this virus, which was made more powerful by the media we have, this reckless media

A statement made on January 5, during a speech outside the Palacio de Planalto.

President Jair Bolsonaro falsely said that the Supreme Federal Court forbade the Federal government from acting to manage the pandemic, saying this would be the responsibility of the states and municipalities. But the Supreme Federal Court itself came out to deny the president’s words and said the decision did not exempt him from his responsibility. Bolsonaro has also repeated that social-isolation measures cannot prevail over the functioning of the economy, or else the country’s general outlook will worsen. The government stresses that, with the emergency aid package, which ended in December, it has provided one of world’s largest programs of financial help for the most vulnerable in the population.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry says it has supported states and municipalities, transferring resources and goods, and continues to spread the idea that early treatment for Covid-19 with drugs whose efficacy is unproven can prevent the disease from worsening.

Download the full document in English here.

Translation by Clara Allain.