President Jair Bolsonaro posted on Twitter that the Health Ministry is considering declaring Covid an “endemic” disease in Brazil.
In itself, a change of label doesn’t mean Covid is less severe. Calling the disease “endemic” simply suggests it is here to stay. But to Jair Bolsonaro, calling in an “endemic” disease would be close to saying the health emergency is over.
– Em virtude da melhora do cenário epidemiológico e de acordo com o § 2° do Art. 1° da Lei 13.979/2020, o @minsaude , @mqueiroga2 , estuda rebaixar para ENDEMIA a atual situação da COVID-19 no Brasil. pic.twitter.com/SUJraTuehQ— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) March 3, 2022
From the beginning of the pandemic, Mr. Bolsonaro has gone against nearly every single scientific consensus regarding the coronavirus. He opposed restrictions, quarantines, and vaccines — while touting unproven treatments. His administration stalled purchase agreements for Pfizer immunizers, and only invested in rolling out jabs once public pressure became unbearable.
With the elections just months away, the president seems eager to declare the pandemic over. Back in 2020, one of his closest allies did so — but almost 650,000 people have died from coronavirus infections since.
In recent weeks, Brazil has experienced a sharp decrease in new daily Covid cases and deaths. According to researchers from the University of São Paulo, the country’s Covid transmission rate is down from 2.1 on February 5 to 0.78 — meaning that the spread is slowing down. However, data collection has been hampered by the Carnival break. Short-staffed, health unions have their case-logging abilities compromised.