The ministry tweeted that with the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, it has been in talks with the US government since March 13 “to allow Brazil to import vaccines from the surplus available in the United States.”
The announcement comes after the administration of US President Joe Biden said Thursday it would “loan” 2.5 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to Mexico and another 1.5 million doses to Canada , despite an excess of doses.
The government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro faces increased pressure to explain his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the slow deployment of vaccines.
The country is seeing an increase in coronavirus infections and deaths, as more than 290,000 people have died since the start of the pandemic – the second highest in the world after the United States.
More than 11.8 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Brazil to date, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Since March 13, the Brazilian government, through Itamaraty and the Embassy in Washington, in coordination with the Department of Health, has been negotiating with the U.S. government to allow Brazil to import vaccines from the United States. surplus available in the United States.
– Itamaraty Brazil 🇧🇷 (@Itamaraty_EN) 20 mars 2021
On Saturday, the health ministry said 79,069 new cases had been reported in the previous 24 hours, along with 2,438 additional coronavirus-related deaths.
The country’s healthcare network is also on the brink of collapse in several parts of the country, as local and state officials have tried in recent weeks to impose tighter restrictions in a bid to stem the spread of the virus.
Rio de Janeiro’s beaches were closed to the public over the weekend, with Mayor Eduardo Paes urging residents to stay at home in what he described as a “very difficult” situation.
“Either we are aware of this and we respect lives, or we will live in an unmanageable situation in the coming days”, he added, as police took up positions in front of the beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema and Barra de Tijuca. .
It was the first time that Rio’s beaches had been closed to the public since they reopened in July of last year.
Earlier this month, Sao Paulo state governor Joao Doria also imposed a two-week “code red” lockdown, shutting down non-essential businesses and restricting other services.
The measures sparked protests across Brazil, as law enforcement authorities broke up large gatherings that violated the restrictions.
Daniel Schweimler of Al Jazeera, Buenos Aires, said on Saturday that one problem is that there have been conflicting statements and actions from political leaders across Brazil.
As the mayor of Rio de Janeiro closed the beaches, Schweimler said Bolsonaro encouraged people to go “soak up as much vitamin D and sun as possible because he says it’s the best way to fight the coronavirus “.
“So you really have this big political problem: those who impose measures to try to deal with the pandemic, and the president and his allies say they are doing a good job, they are dealing with it as best they can,” it’s not their fault and really makes people do things as usual, ”said Schweimler.
Bolsonaro, a COVID-19 skeptic who has avoided public health measures and played down the coronavirus threat, has asked Brazil’s Supreme Court to overturn the lockdown orders, local media reported on Friday.
“They are imposing a state of siege, which is unconstitutional. They cannot do this without the approval of Congress. They humiliate the population by saying that they save lives. How can they save lives, they starve people, ”Bolsonaro said.
The far-right president appointed Brazil’s fourth health minister since the start of the pandemic last week, saying the country was entering a “more aggressive” phase in the fight against the virus.
Marcelo Queiroga, cardiologist, a promised to carry out Bolsonaro’s policy.
Meanwhile, the Brazilian government has struggled to administer COVID-19 vaccines, delivering at least one dose to around 5.4% of the population so far.
Brazil approved two vaccines for emergency use in January: AstraZeneca in the UK and CoronaVac developed in China.
The country said last week it had ordered 100 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 38 million from Johnson & Johnson, as it negotiated for 13 million doses of the vaccine from Moderna Inc.