Cash-for-vaccine whistleblower tries to accuse Covaxin whistleblower

Cash-for-vaccine whistleblower tries to accuse Covaxin whistleblower
Luiz Paulo Dominguetti Pereira. Photo: Edilson Rodrigues/SF/CC-BY 4.0

The Senate’s Covid hearings committee is questioning Luiz Paulo Dominguetti Pereira this afternoon, who on Tuesday told newspaper Folha de S.Paulo that the Health Ministry’s former logistics director demanded a bribe in exchange for approving the purchase of 400 million AstraZeneca vaccines. He reiterated what he told the newspaper — and tried to drag Congressman Luis Miranda into the scandal.

Mr. Miranda is a vaccine whistleblower himself, having ignited the Covaxin scandal last week, and Mr. Pereira claimed that the member of Congress acted as a middle-man in the allegedly corrupt AstraZeneca negotiations. Indeed, Mr. Pereira played an audio message he received from Mr. Miranda, which would supposedly incriminate the congressman. 

The message clearly shows Mr. Miranda negotiating something, but details are scarce. “You know I have a buyer with a unique payment potential because he buys all the time … if you have your product on hand and you have a video, my buyer will take this as fact and send all of the necessary documentation,” says Mr. Miranda, in the recording.

Mr. Pereira’s evidence was treated with some mistrust by the inquiry’s leaders, given that the Federal Police opened an investigation into Luis Miranda’s allegations yesterday. “We’ve just interrogated someone who surprisingly brings us an audio message describing trouble that could involve Congressman Miranda […] on whose behalf?” questioned committee rapporteur Renan Calheiros.

“This inquiry won’t accept this sort of thing. These genocidal individuals that have caused so much pain to Brazil will be held accountable,” he added.

Among the opposition, there is an outside suggestion that Mr. Pereira may have been planted or coached by the government, in an attempt to disqualify allegations made by Luis Miranda.

UPDATE: Congressman Luis Miranda announced on Twitter he is taking his cell phone to a notary’s office to prove that the audio clip played to the committee dates back to 2020.

Mr. Miranda wrote: “The criminals are desperate … using an audio clip from my company in the U.S. in the acquisition of gloves for the American market! They are trying to discredit my testimony at all costs … they have a lot to hide!”