Explaining Brazil #130: Electoral calculations around Covid-19 vaccines

Jair Bolsonaro and São Paulo Governor João Doria are using the race for a vaccine as a sparring match before the 2022 election

After opposing social isolation measures — saying they would “kill jobs” even while saving lives — President Jair Bolsonaro is now going against one potential Covid-19 vaccine being developed in Brazil. He said the federal government will not endorse immunization from China — which Mr. Bolsonaro calls “that other country” — despite the fact that preliminary results show the Chinese-made CoronaVac has caused much fewer side effects than its competitors. 

The president’s moves are calculated — and have everything to do with the 2022 election. We explain how.

And in the second part of the episode, the growing anti-vaccine movement in Brazil is showing parallels with the early 1900s, when Brazilians literally revolted against a mandatory vaccination campaign.

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On this episode:

  • Andre Pagliarini was a visiting assistant professor of modern Latin American history at Brown University in 2018–2019 and is currently a lecturer at Dartmouth College. He is preparing a book manuscript on 20th-century Brazilian nationalism.
  • Sidney Chalhoub is a Professor of History and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University.

Background reading:

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