Brazil delays vaccine effort for marketing stunt

Brazil delays vaccine effort for marketing stunt
The government will get 2 million ready-for-use shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine in India.

A government-led mission to collect 2 million ready-for-use doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in India was delayed so that the Health Ministry could decorate an aircraft with marketing banners, government sources told The Brazilian Report. The flight was initially planned to depart on Tuesday, but authorities moved the trip to Thursday evening.

“An immunized Brazil. We are one nation,” reads one banner, transferred on the side of the aircraft, rented from carrier Azul.

The marketing stunt has had a ripple effect on the logistics of Brazil’s vaccination mission, with the delays meaning the vaccines are expected to arrive in the country on January 18 at the earliest, as opposed to this week.

Speaking to The Brazilian Report, the Health Ministry’s marketing adviser Marcos Eraldo Arnoud Marques said that decorating the aircraft was Azul’s idea, not the government’s. The company, however, says otherwise. According to the airline’s press office, the marketing material arrived at Viracopos Airport, in São Paulo state, and Azul employees were only responsible for affixing it to the aircraft.

Advertising the vaccine

The phrase stamped on the plane will be the slogan of the government-sponsored campaign to raise awareness around Covid-19 vaccines. Mr. Marques said: “We want to show we are one nation. A slogan which shows patriotism, love for Brazil. That there is no region better than the other, no class better than the other, no race differences. Everyone is one.”

It is an attempt to improve the government’s image in relation to vaccines, after months of President Jair Bolsonaro echoing anti-vax arguments and sowing mistrust around Chinese-made vaccines.

Update: The Health Ministry denies the report. We stand by our story. We have formally asked the government about how much was spent on the plane decoration and which company was hired to produce it.

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