Mandetta: Bolsonaro’s chloroquine discourse is meant to reopen the economy

Mandetta: Bolsonaro’s chloroquine discourse is meant to reopen the economy
Former Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta. Photo: Marcelo Casal Jr/ABr

Luiz Henrique Mandetta was dismissed from the Health Ministry last month due to his public clashes with President Jair Bolsonaro. Less than a month after his exit, his replacement, Nelson Teich resigned this Friday — following similar disagreements with Mr. Bolsonaro, Mr. Mandetta decided to talk publicly about the president’s obsession with antimalarial drug chloroquine for Covid-19 patients: “He wants a drug that gives people confidence so that he can reopen the economy. Meanwhile, people are calm thinking that the drug solves the problem,” he told Correio Braziliense.

According to Mr. Mandetta, the president relies on the antimalarial drug because it is “cheap and produced in Brazil.” The efficiency of the drug, however, is not confirmed, and the former minister has talked against its use on multiple occasions. In Brazil and abroad, studies have shown that high doses of chloroquine, and similar drug hydroxychloroquine, might increase the likelihood of death.

Remaining ministers defend chloroquine use

During a visit to a hospital in the northeastern state of Piauí, Human Rights Minister Damares Alves defended the use of chloroquine on Covid-19 patients. For Ms. Alves, the lack of scientific evidence is no obstacle: “[Do you need] an angel to fall from the sky and tell us that it works?” Ms. Alves, an evangelical preacher with no medical training, has been widely criticized for the statement.