Brazil surpassed 250,000 Covid-19 deaths this week, but that doesn’t seem to be enough for the federal government. Instead of concentrating all institutional efforts on fighting the pandemic — especially when Brazil needs to administer 11 times more vaccines every day to immunize its entire population by the end of 2022 — President Jair Bolsonaro appears to care far more about oil and gas.
Amid a shortage of vaccines, oxygen tanks, and intensive care beds in several parts of the country, Mr. Bolsonaro has remained inactive, using his presidential authority instead to dismiss the CEO of state-controlled oil company Petrobras, appointing a retired Army general as the replacement.
The decision caused market chaos, and Petrobras lost USD 100 billion in market value in a single day. The fear among investors is that President Bolsonaro is not the libertarian head of state they believed he was — but a cursory glance at his political resume would have told them that back in 2018.
Indeed, had Mr. Bolsonaro employed the same zeal toward Petrobras in favor of acquiring vaccines, perhaps Brazil would be in a better position to deal with the pandemic.
According to a recent Ipsos survey, Brazil tops a list of ten nations with the highest rate of people who want authorities to force citizens to take immunization, showing how much Mr. Bolsonaro’s priorities diverge from that of the population.
When asked “should Covid-19 vaccination be mandatory?,” 68 percent of Brazilian respondents said yes. If the question were “should the lives of Brazilian people remain as the government’s lowest priority?,” one wonders what the answer would be.