Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga was the keynote speaker in a government-held event in his home state of Paraíba. During his speech, he defended President Jair Bolsonaro and his administration’s pandemic response — one day after a Senate committee accused Mr. Bolsonaro of nine crimes, including crimes against humanity. Senators also recommended the indictment of Mr. Queiroga for crimes of malfeasance and helping to cause a deadly epidemic.
A defiant Mr. Queiroga said there are no corruption accusations involving cabinet members. He also said that all vaccines administered in Brazil were brought to the country by the federal government, which is not true. The Chinese-made CoronaVac — which accounts for 31 percent of jabs in Brazilians’ arms — was brought to Brazil by the São Paulo state government, in spite of the federal administration.
“We are completing the task [of defeating the coronavirus] the president bestowed upon us,” said the minister. The event served as a political rally to teach Mr. Queiroga the ropes of campaigning. He is among several government officials who were propelled to fame (or infamy, depending on your point of view) by the pandemic and who are expected to fight for office in 2022.
It remains undecided whether Mr. Queiroga will run for the Senate or the Paraíba governor’s office. His predecessor Eduardo Pazuello is also likely to compete in next year’s elections, despite overseeing an unmitigated pandemic disaster during his tenure in the cabinet. Mr. Pazuello initially wanted to fight for a Senate seat, but allies believe he has little chance of winning, advising him to stand for Brazil’s lower house instead.