Health Ministry minutes contradict Pazuello on chloroquine purchases

Health Ministry minutes contradict Pazuello on chloroquine purchases
Covid hearings. Photo: Marcos Oliveira/SF/ACS/CC BY 4.0

Unscientifically touted by President Jair Bolsonaro as a “possible cure” for Covid-19, antimalarial drug chloroquine remains at the center of debates in the Senate’s Covid hearings. Speaking to the inquiry on Thursday, former Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello was adamant that he had “never purchased a single chloroquine pill.”

However, official minutes of meetings within the Health Ministry during his tenure tell a different story. On July 10, 2020, the department met to discuss a public procurement process to purchase chloroquine diphosphate — a compound with antimalarial and anti-inflammatory properties.

And the Health Ministry constantly monitored stocks and distribution of the drug to states, as The Brazilian Report revealed yesterday. By July 22, 2020, almost 4.8 million pills had been sent to local administrations — and the government even discussed administering the drug to pregnant women and children. By that point, scientific evidence against chloroquine’s efficacy was already overwhelming.