Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro overruled his own health minister on Wednesday, rejecting the announced purchase of 46 million doses of CoronaVac, a potential vaccine against COVID-19 being tested in Sao Paulo state.
Responding to a supporter on social media who urged him not to buy the Sinovac vaccine, Mr Bolsonaro said: “We will not buy the Chinese vaccine.”
“The Brazilian people will not be anyone’s guinea pig,” Bolsonaro said on his social media channels, adding that the shot made by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac is yet to finish its testing phase which is true of all potential vaccines. “My decision is to not purchase such a vaccine”.
São Paulo Governor João Doria, an ally-turned critic of President Bolsonaro, said the immunisation programme could begin as soon as January 2021, making it one of the first such efforts in the world to fight the pandemic.
Bolsonaro and Doria have had an adversarial relationship since the start of the pandemic, with each taking opposite stances regarding stay-at-home recommendations and restrictions on activity. The governor of Brazil’s most populous state heeded the counsel of public health experts and adopted such measures, which the president blasted, arguing the economic fallout could kill more than the disease.Brazil has been one of the countries worst affected by coronavirus.
It has had nearly 5.3 million confirmed cases, the third highest tally in the world after the US and India, and is second only to the US in terms of deaths, with nearly 155,000 registered so far, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University.