Numbers of the week: Feb. 6, 2021

. Feb 06, 2021
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This is Brazil by the Numbers, a weekly digest of the most interesting figures tucked inside the latest news about Brazil. A selection of numbers that help explain what is going on in Brazil. This week: Congressional leadership races; Public spending (or lack thereof) on Covid-19; Cuban vaccine efforts; Adverse reactions to vaccines in Brazil; Vale settlement.

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302-145 vote

Congressman Arthur Lira was elected Brazil’s new House Speaker on February 1, and will hold the office for the next two years. While Mr. Lira’s victory was not a surprise, his winning margin. With 302 votes, he gained over twice as many votes as Baleia Rossi (145 votes) and reaffirmed his strength among his peers. The triumph was largely made possible by President Jair Bolsonaro’s personal involvement with the congressional race — greenlighting hundreds of millions in parliamentary grants buy support for Mr. Lira.

Mr. Bolsonaro scored another win across the hall in the Senate President race, with first-term Senator Rodrigo Pacheco winning against fellow rookie Simone Tebet, by a 57-21 landslide.

BRL 37 million to waste

The Brazilian government forfeited over BRL 37 million (USD 6.8 million) in resources earmarked for pandemic efforts. They had been made available to lawmakers through congressional budgetary grants — a provision in the Constitution that prevents the executive branch from having a monopoly over the federal budget. The money would have been enough to pay for 23,144 new intensive care units, but it was ignored by the Health Ministry and is currently frozen. 

Meanwhile, the Federal Police opened an investigation into Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello’s involvement in the health collapse in Manaus, the biggest city of Brazil’s Amazon region. Federal prosecutors also started preliminary inquiries into President Jair Bolsonaro’s own conduct in the health crisis.

100 million vaccine doses in 2021

Cuban health authorities said tourists visiting the country will be able to receive the country’s homemade Covid-19 vaccine Soberana 02. The immunizer is still undergoing its phase-three clinical trials and is expected to be approved for use by local regulators in March. Besides the target to vaccinate its entire 11.2 million-people population, Cuba expects to produce up to 100 million doses of Soberana 02 and ship the surplus to countries such as Venezuela, Vietnam, and Iran.

0.04 percent with vaccine side effects

By February 2, Brazil’s Health Ministry had received 1,038 notifications of side effects in citizens who received Covid-19 vaccination. This means that only 0.042 percent of the 2.4 million immunized patients had any reaction to the jab, whether it be the AstraZeneca vaccine or Chinese-made CoronaVac. 

Per official data, only 20 people had severe adverse reactions after taking a vaccine — though it remains unclear whether they were in fact caused by the immunizer.

USD 6.9 billion in reparations for Brumadinho 

The state government of Minas Gerais and mining giant Vale have reached a deal that will see the company pay BRL 37.7 billion (USD 6.9 billion) in reparations for the Brumadinho dam disaster in 2019. While it would be the largest settlement deal ever signed in Latin America, critics say it does not even scratch the surface of Vale’s responsibilities. 

In 2019, an iron ore tailings dam collapsed near the town of Brumadinho, killing 270 people and destroying surrounding communities. Thousands are still homeless to this day, as Renato Alves showed on The Brazilian Report.[/restricted]

Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist, Gustavo has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. He has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets and founded The Brazilian Report in 2017. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science and Latin American studies from Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris.

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