Power

The inner workings of Bolsonaro’s ‘unofficial’ health ministry

On dozens of occasions, the president met with a group of informal health advisors who helped shape his much-criticized pandemic policy. The Health Ministry, meanwhile, was kept in the dark

health The president met with his unofficial advisors on September 8, 2020. Photo: Marcos Corrêa/PR
The president met with his unofficial advisors on September 8, 2020. Photo: Marcos Corrêa/PR

In September 2020, President Jair Bolsonaro hosted an unofficial meeting at the presidential palace with virologists, doctors, and politicians — none of whom wore masks — discussing ways to deal with the pandemic. Besides the irony of the president organizing a meeting in flagrant breach of coronavirus safety rules precisely to discuss the Covid-19 crisis, the most notable aspect of this gathering was that the Health Minister was nowhere to be seen.

During this September meeting, the need to purchase vaccines was brushed aside and their reliability was called into question, and those present instead discussed the promotion of antimalarial...

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