Accounts Court deems chloroquine money illegal

Jair Bolsonaro holding a box of chloroquine: "possible cure." Photo: Carolina Antunes/PR
Jair Bolsonaro holding a box of chloroquine: “possible cure.” Photo: Carolina Antunes/PR

An audit by the Federal Accounts Court — a sort of audit tribunal which monitors public spending in Brazil — has flagged irregularities in how the government financed the distribution of chloroquine to Covid-19 patients. The Health Ministry reportedly used money earmarked for funding Brazil’s public health system (SUS), which is illegal.

“As [federal regulators] didn’t certify the efficacy of chloroquine against Covid-19, there are no legal grounds for using money [destined for SUS],” says the audit, quoted by newspaper Folha de S.Paulo. Despite a lack of scientific evidence, President Jair Bolsonaro has touted chloroquine as a “possible cure” against the coronavirus.

Per BBC Brasil, the Bolsonaro administration has spent nearly USD 17 million on unproven treatments for the coronavirus — but has failed to pay for purchases of the CoronaVac.

The audit turns up the heat on Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello, who is under investigation for his potential omission faced with the health collapse in Manaus, the largest city in the Amazon basin. His department was warned about an imminent lack of oxygen cylinders in local hospitals, but did nothing to prevent a full-scale health crisis.

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