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Montevideo, September 20th 2020 - 10:27 UTC

 

 

Covid-19 pandemic: Brazilians have greater trust in the Health than in president Bolsonaro

Saturday, April 4th 2020 - 08:30 UTC
Full article 88 comments
Minister Mandetta plays up his background as doctor and health official, but allies say his political savvy also make him an important counterweight in the cabinet. Minister Mandetta plays up his background as doctor and health official, but allies say his political savvy also make him an important counterweight in the cabinet.
His rise has not gone unnoticed. Bolsonaro was visibly irked by questions about Mandetta.  “Nobody should forget that I’m the president,” he said. His rise has not gone unnoticed. Bolsonaro was visibly irked by questions about Mandetta. “Nobody should forget that I’m the president,” he said.

Brazilians feeling frustrated with president Jair Bolsonaro are turning to another voice for guidance and reassurance. Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta has emerged from relative obscurity with technocratic daily briefings presenting the latest science, stressing the need for social distancing measures and earning praise from across the political spectrum.

A former federal lawmaker from the same party as the leaders of both houses of Congress, Mandetta plays up his background as doctor and health official, but allies say his political savvy also make him an important counterweight in the cabinet.

His rise has not gone unnoticed. Tensions boiled over in a tense meeting at the presidential residence, according to sources, and Bolsonaro was visibly irked by questions about Mandetta. “Nobody should forget that I’m the president,” he said.

This week, Bolsonaro replaced the Health Ministry briefings, which had been carried live on several TV networks for weeks, in favor of a news conference at the presidential palace where Mandetta is one of a half dozen ministers, often speaking last.

“Mandetta comes out of this crisis much stronger than when he went into it,” said Efraim Filho, the head of Mandetta’s Democrats party in the lower house. “Now he has the admiration and the respect of a big slice of society that goes beyond ideological lines.”

Just 35% of Brazilians called Bolsonaro’s handling of the coronavirus crisis “good” or “great,” according to a Datafolha survey released last week, compared to 55% support for Mandetta’s performance, in line with that of governors.

“He is an important asset for the Bolsonaro government,” said Filho, when asked about rising tensions. “Any firing or exit of Mandetta would erode support for the president.”

As his public standing has risen, the health minister has more openly contradicted Bolsonaro. He warned of the dangers of chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug that Bolsonaro believes could be a cure for the COVID-19 respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

Mandetta enjoys the support of various key cabinet ministers including Justice Minister Sergio Moro and Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, according to the sources and press reports.

“Now we are hit by this (coronavirus) wave ... we are under the guidance of Minister Mandetta,” Guedes said in a press conference. “People can obey Mandetta’s social isolation orders.”

In a statement, the justice ministry said it had adopted measures “to deal with the coronavirus pandemic in accordance with the technical guidelines of the health ministry.”

A former doctor and health secretary for the city of Campo Grande, Mandetta became a federal lawmaker in 2010. Hailing from the soy-producing state of Mato Grosso do Sul, he has strong ties to Brazil’s powerful agribusiness sector, sources said.

During his time in Congress, he was most well-known for opposing health policies of the leftist Workers Party government, and in particular its “Mais Medicos” program which brought Cuban doctors to Brazil’s most far-flung corners.

Top Comments

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  • Pugol-H

    Lockdowns don’t really deal with the pandemic, they just slow it down to a rate your health services can cope with, so basically you don’t get more serious patients than you have ventilators. You hope.

    Without a vaccine it is difficult to see an exit strategy that does not lead to large numbers of deaths, on an ongoing basis.

    Unless a high enough percentage of your population has gained immunity (which cannot happen during a lockdown), it will simply start all over again. As China is finding out, Guangdong being only one of 20+ provinces in China where even there most of the population probably still don’t have any immunity.

    Assuming of course you get immunity, which is probable but not yet proven.

    Lockdowns notwithstanding, this is going to run and run, I fear we have yet to reach the end of the beginning of this thing.

    Apr 04th, 2020 - 04:37 pm +2
  • Pugol-H

    Governments are at some point going to have to start easing lockdowns, as to when will probably depend on how wealthy the country is.

    As Chicureo says, many countries simply cannot sustain this for any length of time.

    Here they are saying a year for a vaccine and then some months to be able to produce the quantities required.

    The only real game changer I can see in the short term, is if you do gain immunity from having the virus and they perfect a simple test for the antibody.

    They are trialling some tests here at the moment and if successful talking about issuing people a certificate and lifting restriction for them if they test positive. With some 30%+ of the population here not showing any symptoms at all you could be talking about a sizable proportion of the population.

    Then you can start to release others, depending on how high risk they are, into to a “herd resistant” mobile population.

    Just to put some perspective on this, in a bad flu season (where they get it wrong and vaccinate for the wrong flu strain), we can typically lose 16-17,000 people.

    Anyway, glad to see you are all still alive and kicking and surviving lockdowns.

    Stay well Compadres.

    Apr 05th, 2020 - 12:07 pm +2
  • Pugol-H

    Actually I’m a Brit, of colonial descent, grew up as what the Americans call “a military brat”.

    I think it was you I told that I once lived near RAF/USAF Chicksands.

    You were there sometime after the Yanks had de-camped?

    Let us hope this virus isn’t able to mutate like flu, which would make this almost never ending.

    WHO have shied away from recommending use of hydroxychloroquine, so far?

    Not that we would have much stock of an anti-malarial drug here.

    Apr 05th, 2020 - 05:49 pm +2
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