Health Minister publicly pressures Bolsonaro for new vaccines

vaccines purchases health minister
Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello visits a Manaus field hospital. Photo: Caio de Biasi/MS-ASCOM

On Sunday evening, the Brazilian Health Ministry sent a public request to the Office of the Chief of Staff asking for assistance to purchase more Covid-19 vaccines. 

For months, negotiations with Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer have stalled due to the companies’ demands, which are considered excessive by the Brazilian government. Earlier this year, Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said labs want to be fully exempt from responsibility for potential vaccine side effects on patients.

While once adamantly against caving to these conditions, Mr. Pazuello is now under intense pressure to yield, as multiple cities are running out of vaccines and may stop their immunization programs. The minister is also targeted by federal investigation for his conduct and could soon be at the center of a congressional hearings committee. 

As of February 21, over 5.8 million people had received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine — less than 3 percent of Brazil’s 211 million population. Experts say Brazil needs to increase its vaccination speed by almost 11 times to 2 million jabs per day in order to reach the government’s goals for 2021.

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