Brazil is brilliant at vaccinations. So what went wrong this time? – World News

    When it comes to vaccination programs against covid-19, there are some countries that have exceeded expectations and others that have fallen surprisingly short. and then there’s brazil.

    vaccinating more than 210 million people may seem daunting, but for brazil it really shouldn’t be. With one of the largest free and universal public health systems in the world, the country has a distinguished record in vaccination and disease control. the national immunization program, founded in 1973, helped eradicate polio and rubella in the country and currently offers more than 20 free vaccines in all municipalities.

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    Along with the infrastructure to distribute vaccines, there is also the expertise to do so: in 1980, the country vaccinated 17.5 million children against polio in a single day. in 2010, more than 89 million doses of the swine flu vaccine were administered in less than four months. And last year, more than 70 million Brazilians received their annual flu shot.

    We take immunization so seriously here that we even have a pet for vaccination campaigns, an adorable six-foot smiling white spot named “zé gotinha”, joe droplet. (This glorious national hero apparently refused to shake hands with President Jair Bolsonaro during an official event in December.)

    But despite these advantages, the rollout of the vaccine in Brazil has been painfully slow, inconsistent, and affected by shortages. the nationwide program began on January 1. 18, later than more than 50 countries, and at the current rate it will take more than four years to complete. Several major cities, such as Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, have already had to stop their campaigns due to supply problems.

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    in a country where the pandemic has caused terrible damage: 250,000 people have died, the second highest total in the world, after the united states, as cities along the amazon river like manaus have been abandoned to their fate : Failure equals disaster.

    so what went wrong? maybe we should look at joe droplet: he seems to know exactly who to blame.

    From the beginning, the Bolsonaro government downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic. the president fought against masks and social distancing measures, comparing the coronavirus to the rain that would fall on most people and drown only some of them. (“It’s no use staying home crying,” he said recently, after the country recorded 1,452 deaths in a single day). in the midst of the outbreak, he managed to get rid of two health ministers, both doctors, who threatened to contradict him, replacing them with an army general.

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    In addition, Bolsonaro not only spent emergency funds to buy and distribute unproven drugs against covid-19, even after they were shown to be ineffective, but also refused many offers of vaccine doses. in august, pfizer offered brazil 70 million doses, with delivery beginning in december, but the government was not interested. the company made two other proposals, without success.

    when asked for an explanation, brazil’s health ministry claimed that the terms of the contract, the same ones that applied to all countries, were “abusive.” Pfizer, Bolsonaro complained, would not take responsibility “if you become a superman, if a woman grows a beard or if a man starts speaking in a loud voice.” instead, he kept up his efforts to discredit vaccination, promoting an imaginary “early treatment” for covid-19.

    Bolsonaro even found time to oppose a proposal, submitted to the World Health Organization by India and South Africa, to temporarily lift patent restrictions on coronavirus vaccines. Allowing developing countries, including Brazil, to manufacture vaccines earlier and on a much larger scale was apparently of no interest.

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    Finally, the federal government, under public pressure, began planning a vaccination program. But it focused on a single manufacturer, astrazeneca, whose vaccine trials ended up taking longer than others. other difficulties arose later. after the approval of the vaccine in January, there was a delay in shipment. and the flight with two million doses from india was postponed for a week.

    Bolsonaro also spent months attacking the other vaccine now available in Brazil, Coronavac, developed by the Chinese company Sivac, because it had been backed by the Governor of São Paulo, a political rival and likely contender in the 2022 presidential race. (Bolsonaro even celebrated the death of a participant in the coronavac trial, which was later deemed to be unrelated to the vaccine.)

    When the astrazeneca vaccine did not materialize quickly, Bolsonaro had to fall back on the supply of coronavac that the governor of são paulo had managed to amass. there were no words of thanks.

    Brazil is now gradually expanding local production, while more doses are on the way from India and the facilities of Covax, a global vaccine distribution program. but everything is happening in slow motion. two million doses now, four million a month later.

    Vaccine shortages at least mask the fact that the government probably hadn’t secured enough syringes to administer them. Indeed, it is not surprising that the Lowy Institute, an Australian research institute, considered the government’s handling of the pandemic the worst in the world.

    Bolsonaro, through ineptitude and malice, has squandered the country’s resources to the point of ruin. droplet joe was right to ignore him. if only the rest of us could too.

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