Live Insider

Once dismissive of COVAX Facility, Brazil requested more vaccines from WHO initiative

Euan Marshall
Jun 18, 2021 19:33

Brazil’s Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga saw a request denied to increase the number of vaccines issued to the country by way of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX Facility. This snub comes after the Brazilian government opted to receive the minimum amount of vaccines possible, demonstrating a swift about-turn in the Bolsonaro administration’s immunization stance.

News of the request was revealed by Reuters, which had access to a confidential communiqué between Mr. Queiroga and WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, sent on June 4.

In the document, the Health Minister says the 42 million doses Brazil is set to receive would be insufficient, and requested enough vaccines to immunize 20 percent of the population — approximately 84 million doses.

Mr. Ghebreyesus acknowledged that the COVAX initiative had suffered delays in delivering vaccines, but made it clear that Brazil’s quota would not be increased.

After snubbing Pfizer, Brazil fast-tracked Covaxin approval despite warnings

Lucas Berti
Jun 17, 2021 15:53 ( Updated: Jun 17, 2021 15:54 )

Documents collected by the Senate’s Covid hearings committee continue to paint a picture of a Jair Bolsonaro administration determined to refuse Pfizer vaccines from the get-go. The American lab has produced what appears to be the most effective immunizer against the coronavirus, yet the Brazilian government opted to stall vaccine deals with Pfizer — giving priority to the Indian-made Covaxin instead, which has been surrounded by doubts around its safety and efficacy.

New documents revealed by newspaper O Globo show that the federal government agreed to purchasing Covaxin doses after just 97 days — three times faster than negotiations with Pfizer. This was despite several red flags raised by the Brazilian Embassy in New Delhi around how Covaxin’s manufacturer, Bharat Biotech, failed to deal with trial data in a transparent manner. In a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Brazilian government says Covaxin was one of its “chosen” vaccines.

On June 19, opponents of the government plan to stage protests in 500-plus cities to demand faster vaccine rollouts.

Ousted Rio governor claims he was impeached for investigating Marielle murder

Lucas Berti
Jun 16, 2021 12:47

Impeached Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel appeared before the Senate’s Covid inquiry this morning, in order to clarify allegations of pandemic mismanagement while he was still in office. Officially ousted on corruption charges in April of this year, Mr. Witzel denied all accusations and claimed he was the target of “retaliation” from the federal government, linked to investigations into the assassination of Rio de Janeiro city councilor Marielle Franco, in 2018.

In 2019, the Rio state police arrested a suspect believed to be the gunman in Ms. Franco’s murder. Former military policeman Ronnie Lessa was a neighbor of President Bolsonaro’s, raising questions of the First Family’s potential involvement in the assassination.

According to Mr. Witzel, he was impeached “after asking for an impartial investigation into Marielle [Franco]’s death.”

Brazil joins NASA’s Artemis Moon Mission

TBR Newsroom
Jun 15, 2021 14:29

Brazil signed a cooperation agreement with U.S. space agency NASA this afternoon, marking the country’s participation in the Artemis space program, to return humans to the Moon.

The Science and Technology Ministry showed interest in joining the Artemis Program in December. Since October 2019, the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) has held meetings with NASA to find ways the country could contribute to space missions.

“Joining the Artemis Program will be a new opportunity for Brazilian industry, academia, and research institutes to contribute their knowledge in the benefit of exploring outer space,” said the Brazilian government.

NASA has assembled the first of its powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rockets, which aim to return astronauts to the Moon.

Supreme Court justice clipping wings of Covid inquiry

Euan Marshall
Jun 14, 2021 12:41

After the Senate’s Covid inquiry approved a spate of requests to access banking and telephone records of a number of targets under investigation, Supreme Court Justice Luis Roberto Barroso chose to overturn two of those solicitations, pertaining to two former Health Ministry employees.

The Senate’s hearings committee is tasked with investigating the government’s pandemic response and has the power to access confidential data of individuals when duly justified. Justice Barroso ruled that requests for the records of Flávio Werneck and Camille Giaretta Sachetti were unfounded.

The former was an international relations advisor during the term of former Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello, while Ms. Sachetti headed the ministry’s science and technology department.

On Saturday, Supreme Court Justice Ricardo Lewandowski upheld requests to access confidential records of Mr. Pazuello and former Foreign Affairs Minister Ernesto Araújo.

GDP predictor up for the third time in 2021

Ana Ferraz
Jun 14, 2021 10:44

The Brazilian Central Bank’s Economic Activity Index (IBC-Br), a reliable predictor of the official GDP, rose 0.44 percent in April from March. It was the third positive monthly result of the year. The results, however, were lower than what markets expected. The average forecast by analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was a 1.35-percent rise in April.

Government showed concern about São Paulo governor gaining notoriety over vaccines

Natália Scalzaretto
Jun 11, 2021 17:11

Documents obtained by TV station Globo show that the Brazilian Health Ministry was concerned with the good press received by São Paulo Governor João Doria thanks to his efforts in securing contracts to produce the Chinese-made CoronaVac vaccine in his state. At the time, the federal government showed no indication regarding when it would begin rolling out jabs.

Back in November 2020, the cabinet drafted a briefing saying Mr. Doria had received press attention and popularity by pushing to kick-start rollouts — while the Jair Bolsonaro administration appeared to be stalling. 

This strategy was evident when, just before São Paulo administered its first vaccines in January, then-Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said immunization would begin “on D-day, at H-hour.”

Brazilian services sector grows 0.7 percent in April

Gustavo Ribeiro
Jun 11, 2021 14:24

Brazil’s services sector — the backbone of the country’s economy — enjoyed a positive performance in April, growing 0.7 percent from March. Still, the sector remains 1.5 percent below pre-pandemic levels.

In a year-to-year comparison, last month’s performance represented an increase of 19.8 percent. This is the biggest jump on record — but is largely due to abysmal April 2020 results, when most states enforced Covid-19 restrictions.

According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), the sector remains -5.4 percent down on a 12-month basis, despite having grown 3.7 percent since January.