Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has launched an attack on coronavirus vaccines, even suggesting that one developed by Pfizer-BioNTech could turn people into crocodiles or bearded ladies.
The far-right leader has been skeptical of the coronavirus since it emerged late last year, calling it “a bit of the flu”. This week, he insisted he would not be vaccinated, even launching the country’s mass inoculation program.
“In the Pfizer contract, it is very clear: ‘we are not responsible for any side effects’. If you turn into a crocodile, that’s your problem, ”Bolsonaro said Thursday.
This vaccine has been undergoing testing in Brazil for weeks and is already in use in the United States and Great Britain.
“If you get superhuman, if a woman starts to grow a beard, or if a man starts talking in a sissy voice, they won’t have anything to do with it,” he said, referring to drug manufacturers.
When launching the vaccination campaign on Wednesday, Bolsonaro also said it would be free but not mandatory.
But the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the vaccine was mandatory, even if it couldn’t be “forced” on people.
This means that authorities can fine people for not being vaccinated and ban them from certain public spaces, but not force them to take it.
Brazil has recorded more than 7.1 million cases and nearly 185,000 deaths from Covid-19 among its 212 million people.
Bolsonaro said that once a vaccine has been certified by Brazilian regulatory agency Anvisa, “it will be available to anyone who wants it. But me, I will not be vaccinated. ”
“Some people say I’m setting a bad example. But to the fools, to the idiots who say that, I tell them I already caught the virus, I have the antibodies, so why get vaccinated? ”
There have been a small number of cases of apparent reinfection although there is no certainty as to whether a person can be re-infected or how long the immunity lasts.
Bolsonaro caught the virus in July but recovered in three weeks.
Brazil is in the midst of a second wave of coronavirus infections.
After peaking from June to August, cases had declined, but that changed in November.
Brazil surpassed 1,000 daily deaths from covid-19 on Thursday for the first time since September.
The country’s immunization program has been widely criticized for being delayed and chaotic, especially due to opposition from Bolsonaro.
© 2020 AFP