Defiant Brazilian President Makes U-Turn, Set For COVID-19 Vaccination
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has confirmed he will not get vaccinated against Covid-19, having previously said he would be the “last Brazilian” to do so.
The far-right leader has generated controversy over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and for initially downplaying the seriousness of the virus, despite catching it himself.
“I’ve decided not to get vaccinated. I’m looking at new studies, I already have the highest immunization, why would I get vaccinated?” the 66-year-old said late Tuesday night in an interview with Jovem Pan radio.
“It would be the same as betting 10 reais on the lottery to win two. It doesn’t make sense.”
A coronavirus skeptic, Bolsonaro previously claimed the Pfizer vaccine could turn people into crocodiles due to secondary effects.
Since contracting Covid-19 in July 2020, Bolsonaro has repeatedly claimed that tests have shown he has a large number of antibodies to fight the virus and thus does not need to be vaccinated, something experts dispute.
Bolsonaro is also strongly opposed to the health passes, given to those that are vaccinated, required by some large Brazilian cities in order to access certain public spaces.
“For me, freedom comes before everything else. If a citizen doesn’t want to get vaccinated, that’s his right and that’s the end of it,” Bolsonaro told Jovem Pan.
Almost 100 million of Brazil’s 213 million population are entirely vaccinated against Covid-19, while another 50 million have had one dose.
Last week, the country surpassed 600,000 deaths from Covid-19, the second-worst death toll in the world after the United States.
Bolsonaro’s refusal to get vaccinated has also solicited criticism from abroad, notably in September when he traveled to New York for the UN General Assembly.
While there, he was photographed standing in a street eating pizza, something Brazilian press attributed to his being unable to enter restaurants due to being unvaccinated.