During a videoconference with state governors over a nationwide Covid-19 vaccination plan, Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello admitted for the first time that the Brazilian government will pursue universal immunization against the coronavirus.
In last week’s draft of a vaccination plan, only half of the population would be reached by June 2021.
Headed by vaccine-skeptic President Jair Bolsonaro, the federal administration has been pushed away from its usual denialist stance thanks to a political move by São Paulo Governor João Doria. He announced the start of his state’s own vaccination plan for January 25, coaxing Mr. Bolsonaro into action.
Doria and the government: no lost love
The meeting between governors and Mr. Pazuello was marked by a heated exchange of words between the cabinet minister and Mr. Doria.
“Why favor two potential vaccines to the detriment of another? Are the reasons political and ideological or is it just a sheer lack of interest [by the federal government] to make more vaccines available?” asked Mr. Doria.
The governor questions the fact that the Jair Bolsonaro administration has moved to purchase vaccines produced by AstraZeneca and Pfizer — but has shunned the Chinese-made CoronaVac, introduced to the country by the São Paulo state government. “Your department has paid BRL 1.2 billion [USD 234 million] to AstraZeneca without a vaccine, while the government has backpedaled in buying the CoronaVac, which is [being developed by São Paulo’s] Butantan Biological Institute.”
“I do not know why you insist on this [argument],” said Mr. Pazuello — making sure to say that the CoronaVac “is not São Paulo’s vaccine.” He added that any safe vaccine will be purchased by the government.
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