Bolsonaro preferred COVID-19 herd immunity over vaccines, says Brazilian senator probing country's response

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: May 22, 2021, 08:05 AM(IST)

Brazilian Senator Renan Calheiros, rapporteur of the Parliamentary Inquiry Commission that will investigate the government's handling of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, speaks during a session in Brasilia on May 18, 2021 Photograph:( AFP )

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Senator Renan Calheiros, who is heading the country’s enquiry into the handling of COVID-19 crisis revealed details of the probe on Friday

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has made headlines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. On multiple occasions, he downplayed the gravity of pandemic, even referring to it as a flu.

Now, it turns out that the outspoken president was not truly in favour of mass inoculations in the country, and had originally backed on reaching herd immunity to fight the virus.

Senator Renan Calheiros, who is heading the country’s enquiry into the handling of COVID-19 crisis revealed details of the probe on Friday. Calheiros added that it still remains unclear whether the president committed any criminal offences while handling the COVID-19 pandemic, and added that further investigation is required.

"I think everything points in that direction," Calheiros said, while referring to Bolsonaro’s wish for Brazil to fight the virus by developing herd immunity.

The senator also alleged that Bolsonaro denied the virus. "The president first denied the disease, called it a flu, and then argued against social isolation and lockdown. Then he played down the use of masks and encouraged crowds to gather," Calheiros added.

Also read: Bolsonaro's approval falls to 24%, lowest ever: Poll

"Why is that? Because of herd immunity, the natural immunity ... you have to encourage crowds and the spread of the virus," Calheiros was cited by Reuters as saying. "This is why he never wanted a vaccine," Calheiros further said of Bolsonaro. He also noted how Bolsonaro was slow to use the funds provided by Congress with the aim to procure vaccines from abroad.

When a large part of a given territory’s population achieves immunity against COVID-19, it’s called herd immunity. Most of the times this occurs through widespread infection, which in turn limits the scope of person-to-person infection.

Also read: 'Military knows all about biological warfare': Bolsonaro's swipe at China over COVID-19

Calheiros has remained a staunch critic of Bolsonaro. His report on the government will focus on the delays in procuring vaccines, and will also assess the negotiations that took place with vaccine makers around the world. In addition, it will also look at how failures in the Amazon resulted in a new variant.

So far, Brazil has registered over 16 million Covid cases. More than 450,000 people have succumbed to the virus in the country.

(With inputs from agencies)

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