Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro used social media to slam the Chinese-made vaccine that his health ministry bought hours earlier.
Brazilian Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello – the third to hold the job during the coronavirus pandemic this year – is in hot water with President Jair Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro used social media to deny his minister on Wednesday after his supporters received numerous negative comments against the purchase of the Chinese company Sinovac Biotech Ltd. developed coronavac vaccine. The purchase agreement for the vaccine to be distributed nationwide was announced the day before by the Ministry of Health in cooperation with the state of Sao Paulo, whose butantane institute works with Sinovac.
“The Brazilian people will not be someone’s GUINEA PIG,” the president wrote on his Facebook and Twitter pages, adding that billions cannot be spent on drugs that are still being tested. “My decision is not to purchase the above vaccine.”
Bolsonaro called it “Joao Doria’s Chinese Vaccine,” referring to the governor of Sao Paulo. His government won’t buy a vaccine until the Department of Health and Anvisa approve it. Doria, a former ally turned rival, encouraged work with the Chinese company.
After meeting with Doria, Pazuello said the government had signed a tentative agreement to purchase 46 million doses of the butantane Sinovac vaccine. According to a statement, the purchase would only take place after Anvisa regulatory agency approved the drug.
Doria responded to Bolsonaro by asking for a better understanding of the drugs and asking him not to take them from the minister. Two of Bolsonaro’s health ministers resigned earlier this year over disagreements over his handling of the pandemic, including lockdown measures and the use of unproven treatments.
Doria and Bolsonaro have publicly argued about everything from social distancing to the use of face masks and whether or not vaccinations should be mandatory during the turbulent year. Next month’s local elections have made the public debate even more exciting.
Earlier this week, the Sao Paulo government announced that the phase 3 study for Coronavac had shown the vaccine to be the safest yet, although its effectiveness has yet to be proven.
The federal government has already agreed to buy the vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Covax for a total of 186 million doses. Brazil is one of the countries hardest hit by the virus, with around 5.3 million confirmed cases and 154,837 deaths from respiratory disease.