Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Wednesday said the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 was “welcome” in Brazil, because it “may point to the end of the pandemic.”
Some studious and serious people, who are not linked to pharmaceutical companies, say that Omicron is welcome and, in fact, may point to the end of the pandemic, Bolsonaro said in an interview with the Gazeta Brasil website.
Bolsonaro added that the omicron variant, which is causing an increase in COVID-19 cases worldwide, could be dubbed a vaccine product virus.
The President has stood out worldwide for his defiant stance in the face of the pandemic, repeatedly calling it a little flu despite the more than 600,000 Brazilians who have died from the virus. He has also vowed not to let his 11-year-old daughter be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Omicron has led to a sharp increase in cases in the country, causing infections to exceed 70,000 per day. During most of December, daily cases rarely exceeded 10,000. But while hospitalizations went up, there has not been a similar increase in the need for Intensive Care Units (ICU) beds like in 2021, before vaccines were widely available.
Despite the seemingly milder effects of the variant, medical experts warn that it could still overwhelm hospitals and healthcare systems due to how quickly it spreads. Omicron has become the dominant variant in many places, including the UK, the US, and Brazil.
Perhaps we have reached herd immunization and I did not get vaccinated, said Bolsonaro. There are people who die from other things and they say they died from Covid, he added.
World Health Organization (WHO) CEO Michael Ryan replied that No virus that kills people is welcome, especially if death and suffering are avoidable. It is not time to give up, to declare that this is a welcome virus, said Ryan. There are many people who are in intensive care rooms with respirators, needing oxygen, who would say that this is not a mild ailment, he added.