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Weekend Reads Brazil: Chinese Covid-19 vaccine in Bolsonaro's sights

14:35  26 october  2020
14:35  26 october  2020 Source:   leparisien.fr

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said his government will not buy a Chinese -made Covid - 19 vaccine , a day after his health minister said it would be added to the immunisation programme. Responding to a supporter on social media who urged him not to buy the Sinovac vaccine , Mr

Bolsonaro in recent days has also threatened to withdraw Brazil from the World Health Organization—as Since the onset of the pandemic, Bolsonaro has clashed with state governors over stay-at-home COVID - 19 transmission rebounds quickly after physical distancing rules are relaxed.

Brazil is at the forefront of coronavirus vaccine trials, but President Jair Bolsonaro is causing confusion.

With thousands of volunteers, the country of 212 million people is conducting phase 3 tests - the ultimate before approval - of the world's most promising vaccines.

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But the CoronaVac of the Chinese laboratory Sinovac Biotech is in the sights of President Bolsonaro. The latter canceled the acquisition of 46 million doses announced by its own Minister of Health and this vaccine now seems to have become the subject of a political battle.

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Brazil will begin advanced clinical testing of a Chinese -made vaccine against the new coronavirus Tuesday, issuing the first doses to around 900 volunteers A handout picture released by the Sao Paulo State Government shows the cargo shipment of COVID - 19 vaccines produced by the Chinese

Brazil - China partnership on developing COVID - 19 vaccines . CGTN America. Chinese firm ready to make 100 million Coronavirus vaccine doses if trials are successful. South China Morning Post.

Because one of the ardent defenders of this vaccine is none other than the governor of Sao Paulo - the state by far the most bereaved by the coronavirus -, Joao Doria, great opponent of the head of state. Thus, "the Chinese vaccine of Joao Doria", as Jair Bolsonaro contemptuously designates it, is it at the heart of a showdown before the presidential election of 2022, where Doria could thwart the re-election project of the head of state .

"A vaccine that interests no one"

To add an ideological layer to a health issue, by refusing the vaccine, Jair Bolsonaro has given pledges to his viscerally anti-communist supporters opposed to a vaccine "resulting from a dictatorship". Referring to "a very discredited China" because "the virus was born there", he assured that his country was not going "to buy a vaccine that does not interest anyone".

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China has been largely successful in bringing infection rates down, but there continue to be small outbreaks. Xinjiang is home to China ' s mostly-Muslim Uighur minority which rights groups say is being persecuted by the government in Beijing. Schools in Kashgar have been closed and residents are not

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The coronavirus has claimed the lives of 157,000 Brazilians, the second worst death toll in the world.

"You have to read the situation in the context of the municipal elections (in November) and then the presidential elections", explains Geraldo Monteiro, political scientist from the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). “The vaccine must be produced by the Butantan Institute, placed under the supervision of the State of Sao Paulo. It would be a political conquest for Doria and (Bolsonaro) cannot allow it ”.

- © Provided by Le Parisien -

While Bolsonaro minimized the pandemic, Doria has appeared on the front line of the fight against coronavirus for eight months and has been omnipresent in the media. “From the start, Bolsonaro politicized the pandemic,” continues Geraldo Monteiro. He waltzed two ministers of health and treated as manure governors in favor of confinement which he did not want ”. "Doria did the job and it bothered Bolsonaro a lot, because no one can overshadow" the far-right president, continues Monteiro. Especially not the Paulista governor, probable candidate of the PSDB (center right) for the presidential election.

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Following the lead of President Jair Bolsonaro , preachers in Brazil are competing to define the coronavirus. But empty church pews around the country And in a recent video, Pastor Edir Macedo called the COVID - 19 pandemic Satan' s work, claiming incorrectly that the virus was powerless against

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday visited Health Minister General Eduardo Pazuello, who has COVID - 19 , and made his point that Bolsonaro , who has minimized the gravity of the coronavirus and opposed lockdown measures by governors and mayors in Brazil , used the meeting to advocate

A “lamentable” conflict

“The basic question should be: will this vaccine protect the health of Brazilians? Says Anthony Pereira, Director of the Brazil Institute at King's College London. If Bolsonaro "took the protection of public health seriously, he would not make the vaccine an ideological and political issue," he adds.

This conflict is all the more "lamentable" as Brazil, champion of vaccination campaigns, has "world-class (research) institutes, such as Fiocruz in Rio and Butantan in Sao Paulo".

More than 85% of Brazilians are ready to be vaccinated, according to the journal Nature. But "the attitude (of Bolsonaro) is very problematic and sows doubts among the population," said Lucio Renno, Director of the Institute of Political Sciences at the University of Brasilia.

Bolsonaro's biggest mistake?

At this stage, it is impossible to say which of the phase 3 vaccines will be considered effective and safe. Brazil has committed 1.9 billion reais ($ 338 million) for 100 million doses of the vaccine from the University of Oxford and Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca with Fiocruz.

Faced with the presidential rejection of the "Chinese vaccine", "the States will find a way to get around the problem", predicts Lucio Renno, but "the lack of support from the federal government will slow things down".

The 27 states could form a "consortium" to acquire the vaccine, once approved by the public health agency Anvisa.

The Supreme Court could also disown Bolsonaro by overturning its veto of CoronaVac and by imposing compulsory vaccination. “Opposing (the vaccine) for ideological reasons could have been Bolsonaro's biggest mistake,” concludes Lucio Renno.

Coronavirus: the Emir of Dubai has been vaccinated .
The Emir of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rached Al-Maktoum, was inoculated with an experimental vaccine against the new coronavirus, his Twitter account said on Tuesday. The ruler of Dubai uploaded a photo showing him being vaccinated. “We wish everyone safety and good health, and we are proud of our teams who have worked tirelessly to make the vaccine available in the United Arab Emirates,” he commented. While receiving the COVID-19 vaccine today.

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