Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has once again raised doubts about the efficacy of covid-19 vaccines and defended early treatment against the disease with controversial medicines such as chloroquine.
In his weekly broadcast Thursday on social media, Bolsonaro stressed that several countries - like Chile - were registering problems linked to the Chinese-developed Sinovac drug.
“This vaccine is with problems in different countries that are using it, such as Chile. And in Brazil, it is no different. In some nursing homes where the two doses have already been applied, people are contracting covid and are dying,” Bolsonaro said.
“It is about the vaccine that some governor wanted to buy and there we are seeing the problems,” he added, about Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, his main rival among conservatives, who was also behind the manufacturing of the Sinovac vaccine in Brazil at the Butantan Institute.
Bolsonaro lashed out against Sinovac: “From what it seems, it is not giving the expected result. It is protecting few people and not the number that should be.” Sinovac is also among the drugs used in Uruguay, despite being Chile's first choice immunizer.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi agreed with Bolsonaro Friday in questioning Sinovac's efficacy as well as that of the Russian Sputnik V.
“The Chinese vaccine, which never made the request and which, in any case, the EMA has not approved either, has proven to be inadequate to face the pandemic, as can be seen from the experience in Chile,” Draghi said.
According to a study by the University of Chile dated in April, Sinovac was 54% effective then and it seems to have lost effectiveness by around 10% in light of the new daily cases reported in that country over the past two months.
Bolsonaro insisted he will be the last Brazilian to take a vaccine and said it was better to catch the virus itself and then seek early treatment under the supervision of a qualified physician like he has done. “Look for a doctor because the doctor has the freedom to prescribe what he considers most convenient. Look for alternatives,” he said.
“I was infected last year and I took the medicine and was cured. Six months ago I felt symptoms again and immediately took it and the next day I was fine. I am not going to wait until I am short of breath to go to the doctor to prescribe me. My life is mine,” he underlined.
He also pointed out he had visited indigenous reservations recently, where the locals told him that several of them had contracted covid but that none had died because they were treated with medicinal herbs.
Bolsonaro also criticized the social distancing measures imposed by regional and municipal governments to try to curb the pandemic and cited news according to which children are starving because they cannot go to public schools where they are offered food.
“This is a consequence of the inadequate way of treating the pandemic. The one who decided to close the schools was not me but the mayors and governors. If you lost your job and your rent, it was not my fault; it was who closed companies. The fault lies with the governors,” he assured.
The president cited the case of Argentina, which he referred to as the country that imposed the most confinements and now, in his opinion, it is the country with the highest number of deaths from covid per million inhabitants. The problem was that the left won the elections in Argentina, he said.
He also questioned, again contradicting mainstream scientific evidence, the use of masks when a person is already vaccinated or has contracted covid. He also said he had entrusted the Health Ministry to assess whether all people already immunized may go out maskless.
Bolsonaro, who is persistent with his stance regarding covid-19, has seen his popularity drop to 39% from February's 50%.