Coronavirus vaccine could turn you into 'crocodile': Brazil's President
Jair Bolsonaro, the President of Brazil, who tested positive for coronavirus twice, has given a bizarre statement about vaccines. He suggested that the one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech could turn people into "crocodiles," and that the company won't take any responsibility. He also said he will not get vaccinated as it is his right. Earlier, he dubbed COVID-19 as "a little flu."
This week, Bolsonaro, a far-right leader, launched the mass inoculation program, but his words clarified he doesn't believe in science. "In the Pfizer contract, it's very clear: 'we're not responsible for any side effects.' If you turn into a crocodile, it's your problem," he said. He also disclosed that the doses will be free in the country, but not mandatory.
"If you become superhuman, if a woman starts to grow a beard or if a man starts to speak with an effeminate voice, they will not have anything to do with it," he went on, adding to the conspiracy theories surrounding vaccines.
Bolsonaro's statements are particularly alarming as Brazil's death toll stands at 185,687, which is second only to the United States, the worst-hit nation both in terms of the total number of cases and deaths. Last month, the President mocked masks, which are essential to stop the spread of the disease. That remark of his, naturally, left health experts in shock.
Meanwhile, Miguel Lago, Executive Director of Brazil's Institute for Health Policy Studies, dubbed Bolsonaro's remarks as a "horrible sign." He predicted that the President's hardcore supporters might not get vaccinated. "That will make it harder for Brazil to get above that minimum level of 70-75% of the population vaccinated, which is key for life to go back to some kind of normal," he said.
In fact, last month, a PoderData poll revealed that many Brazilians might choose to ditch the doses. In July, 85% of citizens among those polled said they would take the vaccine. Four months later, in October, the number went down to 63%. Earlier, merely 8% rejected the idea of getting administered with doses. By October, this number grew to 22%, reports Business Standard.
With an anti-vaccination sentiment growing in Brazil and the government hinting that there is no robust plan, citizens are not sure when they will get doses. This, despite the fact, that the country has a world-renowned immunization program. Denise Garrett, a Brazilian-American epidemiologist at the Sabin Vaccine Institute, accused the authorities of playing with the lives of Brazilians. "It's borderline criminal," he told NYT.