Half of Brazilian states relied on unscientific coronavirus policies

coronavirus policies
Photo: Bruno Martins/Shutterstock

Throughout the pandemic, many Brazilian cities saw state governments as providing a necessary shield against the coronavirus denialism of President Jair Bolsonaro’s federal administration. However, disregard for science was not the modus operandi solely of the far-right head of state, as a recent report by the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea) shows.

Fourteen of Brazil’s 27 states officially recommended so-called “early Covid treatment” to their populations, consisting of a cocktail of ineffective and potentially dangerous drugs, erroneously claiming to provide advance protection against the coronavirus. 

However, the research shows that states did play an essential role during the Covid-19 fight, amid the lack of national coordination and the disastrous pandemic response of the federal government — which discouraged mask use and rallied against social isolation measures.

“State governments partially filled a space left by the federal government,” said Rodrigo Fracalossi de Moraes, planning technician responsible for the study, pointing out that states created 69 committees to combat the crisis.

According to the study, state governments from Paraíba, Rio Grande do Norte, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and São Paulo were the most efficient in using science to fight the virus, gathering health experts to help mold pandemic policies.

On the other hand, Mato Grosso, Roraima, and Rio de Janeiro fared the worst, creating unsuitable management committees with members lacking experience in the health area. 

In the example of Mato Grosso, the state created centers to distribute unproven Covid drugs for free, without a prescription. In Amapá, Maranhão, and Pará, state governments distributed medicines to basic health units or recommended their use in the form of early treatment.