Once the world’s Covid epicenter, Brazil’s big cities are lifting all of their Covid restrictions, even making face masks optional outdoors. Far from the disastrous policies enacted by the federal government during the height of the pandemic — which unquestionably contributed to Brazil’s Covid death toll of over 600,000 — the relaxation of measures is for a different and simple reason. Case and death numbers are way down in the country, and have been for some time. Why? Vaccination, of course.
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- Euan Marshall is an editor at The Brazilian Report and also hosts the Explaining Brazil podcast in the absence of Gustavo Ribeiro.
- Like almost everything else related to the pandemic, vaccination policies were highly politicized in Brazil. For most of last year, Jair Bolsonaro and São Paulo Governor João Doria used the race for a vaccine as a sparring match before the 2022 election.
- Brazil managed to roll out its first coronavirus vaccines on January 19, when the country had recorded 8.5 million Covid-19 infections and nearly 210,000 deaths. That was the first glimmer of hope after months of uncertainty.
- Brazil faced multiple vaccine delays despite its history of immunization success. That was the byproduct of a federal government unwilling to pursue coronavirus vaccines, going AWOL on Pfizer for months, and incapable of coordinating rollouts with states and cities.
- At one point, Brazil’s lack of vaccines created a perfect opportunity for shady operators to sell vaccines directly to cities. The problem? These jabs never existed.
- After almost six months of investigations, a Senate committee accused President Jair Bolsonaro of nine crimes for his handling of the pandemic — including crimes against humanity. Now, the ball is in the prosecutor general’s court.
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