The WHO declared, this Friday (5), the end of the global emergency of covid-19, that is, the disease that killed almost 7 million people no longer poses a threat. A little over a year ago, on April 17, 2022, the then Minister of Health, Marcelo Queiroga, thinking of creating an electoral fact for the chief, announced the end of the pandemic emergency in Brazil. It was a strange warning, as the Jair Bolsonaro government never treated it as an emergency.
We beat the coronavirus despite the lethal actions of the former president. Yes, in our biggest war, the one that left more than 700,000 dead in our territory, we were unlucky enough to have as commander a former captain who allied with our worst enemy.
Bolsonaro was in no rush to buy vaccines. On the contrary, he ignored Pfizer’s insistent immunization offers for months, which could have arrived in 2020 and saved the lives of thousands of Brazilians. He even gave the then Minister of Health Eduardo Pazuello a break for declaring that he would buy doses of CoronaVac. As “one commands, the other obeys”, he left it at that.
In one of the most sinister moves, the president and Queiroga put millions of children at risk at the end of 2021. Creating a false war for the “freedom” of not vaccinating, Bolsonaro postponed the start of immunization as long as he could from the age of five age, imposing useless public consultations, threatening the Anvisa team, spreading misinformation, delaying the purchase of doses. He would still say that the vaccine killed children and adolescents and caused HIV.
Then the Covid CPI discovered that, while the country was clamoring for doses of immunizers, negotiations discussing bribes were taking place at the Ministry of Health involving military, religious, police and politicians.
Manaus ran out of oxygen in hospitals in January 2021 and covid-19 patients suffocated. Their families began to buy individual cylinders to try to save them, often without success. The Planalto Palace, which, in a national emergency, should closely monitor inputs, was in no hurry. On the contrary, while Manauaras asked for oxygen, the government sent chloroquine and ivermectin – ineffective remedies for the disease.
Following the fine cream of Brazilian denialism, the government argued that the solution to the pandemic would come through herd immunity that would come from the moment the majority of the population contracted the coronavirus. It was warned that this would be, first, impossible, due to the mutations of the virus that allow reinfection and, second, abominable, because thousands of people would die before reaching that immunity. Asked about this, Bolsonaro said that “death is everyone’s destiny”.
Even emergency aid, which saved lives and helped the economy, was not a government initiative. Under pressure, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes agreed to give a measly R$200. The final amount of the first payment, which reached R$1,200 per family, was thanks to pressure from Congress. Suspended on December 31, 2020, Bolsonaro took four months to return with his payment, leaving poor families in the cold as more than 4,200 died a day. With that, hunger skyrocketed from 19 to 33 million people.
The administrative measures taken by the federal government only took place after popular pressure, court decisions or initiatives by other rulers, that is, with delay. From the closure of airports, which were the entry point for the coronavirus in Brazil, through the mandatory use of masks to the adoption of quarantines and other social isolation measures, policies have come at a snail’s pace. And bringing with it deaths and extending the crisis.
In order not to disturb his re-election, Bolsonaro forced the population to take to the streets, telling lies, belittling the virus and death. The president, who today cries in the face of Federal Police operations that show fraud in his vaccination card so he could travel to Disney, said “no more freshness, mimimi, they will cry until when” to Brazilians who lost loved ones. Ironically, it ended up delaying the recovery of the economy, because it prolonged, with its denialism, the impact of the pandemic.
The Public Health Emergency of National Importance was decreed by the government in 2020 to facilitate the purchase of health supplies, apply vaccines approved on an emergency basis by Anvisa, allow actions such as border control, among other measures. The end was announced a year ago, long before other less impacted countries, just to give Bolsonaro an election speech that he won the Covid-19.
After having his house searched in a search and seizure operation due to vaccination fraud, this Thursday (4), Bolsonaro told PL leaders that he should have taken the immunizer to reduce his rejection and be re-elected. Self-centered, he did not understand (or pretended not to understand) that the question is not what he failed to do for himself, but what he caused for others.
If he had acted with empathy and applied policies to combat the pandemic, Jair could have won the election. Lula had 50.9% of the valid votes and Bolsonaro, 49.10%. The difference was only 2.1 million among more than 156 million voters. He would go down in history as the president who conquered death. He will remain as her ally. We will remember that Brazil and science won the covid, despite it.
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