Brazil Approves Final Tests For J&J COVID-19 Vaccine

This handout picture taken on August 6, 2020 and provided by the Russian Direct Investment Fund shows the vaccine against the coronavirus disease, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. Handout / Russian Direct Investment Fund / AFP
This handout picture taken on August 6, 2020 and provided by the Russian Direct Investment Fund shows the vaccine against the coronavirus disease, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. Handout / Russian Direct Investment Fund / AFP



Brazilian health regulators said Tuesday they had approved Johnson & Johnson’s experimental vaccine against the new coronavirus for the final stage of clinical trials, the fourth vaccine to receive widespread testing in the hard-hit country.

The US pharmaceutical company’s subsidiary Janssen will test the vaccine on 7,000 volunteers across seven states in Brazil, part of a group of up to 60,000 worldwide, health regulator Anvisa said in a statement.

It said the test would be a randomized, controlled, double-blind Phase 3 trial, or large-scale testing on humans — the last step before regulatory approval.

“Another vaccine study has been approved in Brazil, which is a very important development,” Anvisa official Gustavo Mendes said in a video on the regulator’s website.

Brazil has become a key testing ground in the search for a vaccine against COVID-19 since the virus is still spreading fast in the country.


File photo: A patient affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus is treated at a field hospital set up at a sports gym, in Santo Andre, Sao Paulo state, Brazil, on May 11, 2020. Miguel SCHINCARIOL / AFP.


The South American nation has the second-highest number of infections and deaths in the pandemic, after the United States: nearly 3.5 million and 110,000, respectively.

Brazil has also approved three other Phase 3 trials of vaccine candidates, developed by Oxford University in partnership with pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech, and US firm Pfizer in partnership with Germany’s BioNTech.

The Brazilian state of Parana also signed a deal last week to test and produce Russia’s “Sputnik V” vaccine, which controversially became the first in the world to receive regulatory approval.


Scandal, Coup Trail The Sad Life Of Brazilian Presidents

Brazilian ex-president (2003-2011) Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (L) speaks next to Brazilian former president (2011-2016) Dilma Rousseff during a Catholic mass in memory of Lula’s late wife Marisa Leticia, at the metalworkers’ union building in Sao Bernardo do Campo, in metropolitan Sao Paulo, Brazil.  NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP


Suicide, coup d’etat, impeachment, scandal or prison: get elected president in Brazil and you’re almost guaranteed an unhappy ending.

When Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was locked up in federal police headquarters in Curitiba to begin a 12-year sentence for corruption on Saturday, it was a bombshell.

A two-term former president who left office in 2011 as one of the most popular men on the planet, Lula is the frontrunner in October presidential elections.

But seen another way, Lula’s brutal political demise was practically business as usual.

Brazilian presidents get to live in an incredible Oscar Niemeyer-designed palace in Brasilia. They rule over a resource-rich country of 209 million people with the world’s biggest rainforest and possibly the best football team.

Then somehow things tend to go wrong.

At least Lula finished his two terms. His successor Dilma Rousseff, whom he propelled to victory in 2010, was stripped of office in impeachment proceedings for cooking the budget books in 2016, halfway through her second term.

Inheriting the green and yellow sash was her vice president, Michel Temer.

He’s still there, but his future’s murky. Last year he was twice charged with corruption, becoming the first Brazilian president to face criminal prosecution while still in office.

For now, at least, he remains shielded by presidential immunity.

Go back a little further, to 1992, and you have president Fernando Collor de Mello. He was impeached after corruption allegations and resigned two years into his first term.

Prosecutors are after him again now and in 2015 they impounded his spectacular fleet of luxury cars.

Oh and just for good measure, another of the five living ex-presidents — Jose Sarney, who ruled from 1985-1990 — is also facing a corruption probe. It’s worth noting that he only rose to the presidency because he was deputy to Tancredo Neves, who’d won the election, but died before taking office.


“Going into politics is a risky business,” columnist Angela Alonso wrote Sunday in Folha de S.Paulo newspaper. “In Brazil there’s a risk of losing an election, your freedom (prison is in vogue) and your life.”

That was especially true for president Joao Goulart, known to everyone as Jango.

He became president in 1961 after the resignation of Janio Quadros, who lasted barely half a year in office. Then in 1964, Goulart was overthrown in the military coup which would install a dictatorship lasting two decades.

Escaping, he spent the rest of his life in exile, dying in Argentina in 1976 — officially of a heart attack, though there were unproven claims that he was poisoned.

Most tragic of all Brazil’s leaders was Getulio Vargas. A populist, he ruled in two periods through the 1930s-1950s, doing much to transform the country into an industrial powerhouse.

Then 24 August, 1954, he shot himself through the heart with a revolver in his presidential palace, leaving a suicide note to the Brazilian people, reading: “I gave you my life, now I give you my death.”

Question of democracy

Delving back into early Brazilian history, it doesn’t get any better. In fact, the country’s first president founded the republic with a coup d’etat in 1889, ending the Empire of Brazil.

Mauricio Santoro, at the international relations department of Rio State University, says the dismal experience of life in the presidents’ club reflects deep problems with democracy.

“Today, democracy is broader based than it used to be, but it remains marked by instability,” he said. “This makes it hard for presidents to have longterm policies.”

The good news is that the anti-corruption drive getting so many of Brazil’s leaders into trouble simultaneously reflects the country’s growing maturity.

“The difference is that here we have a judiciary enjoying quite a bit of autonomy, especially at the lower levels… with a huge investigative power,” Santoro said. “Society has changed far more quickly than the political system.”

In other words, Brazilians may one day start electing calm, stable, honest presidents. Could October 2018 be that moment?

Santoro isn’t holding his breath.

“Judging by the current presidential candidates,” he said, “I’m afraid it will take a little more time.”


Brazilian President’s Pardons Ignite Corruption Row

Brazilian President Michel Temer (R) and First Lady Marcela Temer get ready to listen to a choir of local public schoolchildren during a celebration for the Christmas holidays, at Alvorada Palace in Brasilia on December 22, 2017.

President Michel Temer was accused Saturday of handing Brazilians convicted of corruption a get out of jail card with changes to the traditional collective Christmas pardon.

Temer, who has been charged with corruption himself, issued the annual decree Friday, expanding the categories of prisoners eligible for early release.

The main shift was to lift the previous exclusion on all those serving sentences of more than 12 years. Under Temer’s changes, the length of sentence no longer matters and a prisoner also needs only to have served 20 percent of the sentence to qualify, rather than 25 percent as under the previous rules.

“It’s a Christmas party for the corrupt,” lashed out Deltan Dallagnol, one of the chief prosecutors in operation “Car Wash,” as the biggest anti-corruption probe in Brazilian history is known.

“Practice corruption with only 20 percent of the consequences,” he said on Facebook.

Dallagnol referred to the case of construction tycoon Marcelo Odebrecht who was released this week into house arrest as part of a steep reduction of his sentence in exchange for providing devastating testimony to “Car Wash” investigators.

Originally, Odebrecht had been sentenced to more than 19 years in prison, but saw that cut to 10 years, with only two and a half behind bars and a transfer now to his luxury Sao Paulo house.

His testimony and that of fellow company executives was used to go after scores of politicians who allegedly took bribes.

Temer’s decree will undermine prosecutors’ bargaining power in such cases, Dallagnol said.

“If Marcelo Odebrecht could have seen this Christmas pardon from President Temer, he’d never have struck a plea bargain!” Dallagnol tweeted.

“Open season for corruption continues. They defraud bids. They embezzle from health, education and security! Come, steal, and head off!! That’s the message.”

Accused of corruption, Temer is the first sitting president to face criminal charges. Congress, where many members are also facing corruption probes, twice voted against putting him on trial.

Responding to the outcry, Justice Minister Torquato Jardim held a press conference in the capital Brasilia Saturday, telling journalists that Temer’s expansion of the pardons was done for completely different reasons.

“The prisons are overcrowded. That is a reality we cannot ignore. Those who will be let out did not commit heinous crimes and are not considered serious threats,” the Correio Braziliense newspaper quoted him as saying.


Chapecoense Plane Investigation Extends To CONMEBOL

Chapecoense Plane Investigation Extends To CONMEBOL Prosecutors from Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia say their joint investigation into the tragic plane crash that killed most of the Chapecoense soccer team could expand as far as to the CONMEBOL regional soccer governing body.

The plane crash sent shock waves through the global soccer community with messages of support and solidarity coming in from around the globe.

Chapecoense players, backroom staff and officials were among the victims when the flight carrying the team to the Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional crashed in Colombia last week.

Brazilian prosecutor, Wellington Cabra, said that they could look into how the small Lamia Charter Company got authorization to charter soccer teams like Chapecoense and others.

These announcements come after authorities detained the chief executive of Lamia on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Chapecoense defender, Alan Ruschel, who was one of six people who survived the deadly plane crash that killed 71 people, is recovering well.

He has also confirmed he would soon be back in brazil.

In a video released by the hospital where he is being treated, the Chapecoense defender could be seen walking around his hospital room and thanking supporters.

Ruschel was reported to have undergone spinal surgery after the crash and doctors told media he was progressing well.

The football world has united in its support for the Brazilian Serie A side, with numerous clubs and players having offered to help in the wake of the tragedy.

Barcelona have invited Chapecoense to play in the Joan Gamper trophy next season to pay tribute to the 71 people who died in the tragic air disaster.

Leaked Tape Shows Chapecoense Crashed Plane Ran Out OF Fuel

chapecoense-plane-crashThe plane which crashed in Colombia killing most team members of a Brazilian football club, Chapecoense, had run out of fuel, a leaked audio recording showed.

A pilot can be heard repeatedly requesting permission to land due to an electric failure and lack of fuel.

Just six of the 77 people on board the plane survived.

Chapecoense had been due to play a cup final on Wednesday evening. Fans instead have been gathering at their stadium for a memorial event.

The BBC reports that the leaked conversations between the flight crew and a Colombian air traffic controller give a glimpse of the frantic, final moments of the doomed plane.

The pilot can be heard warning of a “total electric failure” and “lack of fuel”.

Just before the tape ends, he says he is flying at an altitude of 9,000ft (2,743m). The plane slammed into a mountainside near the Colombian city of Medellin late on Monday.

That there was no explosion when the plane came down also points to lack of fuel, with one Colombian military source telling the AFP agency its absence was “suspicious”.

It is not known why the plane was out of fuel: whether it was due to a leak or because there was not enough on board.

Investigators have yet to announce any single cause for the crash and a full analysis is expected to take months.

Plane Carrying Top Brazilian Chapecoense Football Team Crashes In Colombia

chapecoense-plane-crashA chartered plane carrying top-tier Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense to the biggest game in its history crashed in the Colombian mountains, killing 75 people on board, authorities said on Tuesday.

Dozens of bodies were laid out and covered with sheets around the wreckage of the BAe 146 aircraft, which was lying in mud near La Union, a small town outside Medellin.

The plane went down about 10:15 p.m. on Monday with 72 passengers and a crew of nine. It was unclear what caused the crash, although local media said the plane had reported an electrical fault shortly before it disappeared off radar screens.

A Reuters reports that the plane split in two, destroying the tail end. Rain hampered the dozens of rescuers as they combed the muddy and forested area.

Chapecoense, from Brazil’s top league, had been flying to face Atletico Nacional of Medellin on Wednesday in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final, South America’s equivalent of the Europa League. On Tuesday, Atletico Nacional offered the championship to Chapecoense.

It was the first time the small club from the southern city of Chapeco had reached the final of a major South American club competition.

Colombia’s civil aviation head, Alfredo Bocanegra, said by Tuesday morning, there were 75 confirmed fatalities, with six injured survivors. He said the death toll could rise.

Tributes poured in from the global soccer family and Brazil declared three days of mourning.

“I express my solidarity in this sad hour during which tragedy has beset dozens of Brazilian families,” President Michel Temer said.

“The government will do all it can to alleviate the pain of the friends and family of sport and national journalism.”

Brazilian news organisations said 21 journalists had been on board to cover the match.

Colombia’s disaster management agency listed players Alan Ruschel, Danilo Padilha and Jakson Follmann as survivors.
Flight tracking service Flightradar24 said on Twitter the last tracking signal from flight 2933 had been received when it was at 15,500 feet (4,724 m), about 30 km (18.64 miles) from its destination, which sits at an altitude of 7,000 feet (2133 m).

The BAe 146 was produced by a company that is now part of the UK’s BAE Systems

Indonesia Execution: UN Secretary-General Expresses ‘Deep Regret’

un secretary Ki-Moon has expressed his deep regret over  the Indonesian executionUnited Natons (UN) Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon has expressed “deep regret” over Indonesia’s execution of eight people convicted of drug offences.

The seven foreigners and one Indonesian were executed by firing squad on Wednesday, causing diplomatic fury.

In a statement, the Secretary said that the death penalty had “no place in the 21st Century”, urging Indonesia to spare all other death row prisoners.

Indonesia has firmly defended its actions as part of its “war on drugs”.

The Indonesian Attorney-General, Prasetyo had earlier said that “Execution is not a pleasant thing. It is not a fun job, but we must do it in order to save the nation from the danger of drugs.”

Among the executed prisoners were two Australian men – Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, one Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, one Indonesian and four Nigerians – Martin Anderson, Okwudili Oyatanze, Jaminu Abashin and Sylvester Obiekwe, all convicted of drug smuggling.

Australia has recalled its ambassador in protest.

Mr Abbott on Wednesday described the treatment of the Australians as “cruel and unnecessary”, calling it a “dark moment” in Australia’s relationship with Indonesia.

“We respect Indonesia’s sovereignty but we do deplore what’s been done and this cannot be simply business as usual,” he said.

The Nigerian government has asked the Indonesian Government for the repatriation of the remains of executed Nigerians, in order to be accorded decent burial in their various communities.

FIFA World Cup Opens On Brazilian Valentine’s Day

brazilBrazil is expected to come to a standstill as the national soccer team takes to the pitch against Croatia in the opening match of the World Cup on Thursday June the 12, 2014, the usual day for Valentine’s Day celebrations in Brazil.

This has encouraged the romantic and the soccer mad to get the best of both worlds by celebrating the day in advance.

A number of motels and other businesses have thrown their weight behind the “Movement 11” campaign – offering 11 per cent discounts to the “early bird” Valentines in a bid to ensure that Brazil’s passion for football doesn’t cut into profits.

Some businesses that rely on Valentine’s Day for a surge in profits are complaining that soccer has trumped romance and sales have dipped significantly this year.

“It got in the way. For business, it really got in the way having Valentine’s Day and the World Cup on the same day makes things very complicated.”

Other business owners said there is no room for romance when the World Cup is taking place.

Some others have found a uniquely Brazilian solution to the agonizing question of whether soccer or romance comes first as a man was sighted buying a his and hers Brazilian soccer shirt so that both can revel in the soccer action on Thursday.

Santos To Sue Neymar’s Father

The controversy surrounding Brazilian star Neymar’s move to Spain is yet to stop as his father is to face legal action from Santos over his refusal to show the club details of the deal he made with Barcelona in 2011.

The club is furious that Neymar’s father would only verbally tell them details of the deal and are taking legal action against him, while criticising Barcelona’s tactics in the transfer saga.

Another unhappy party involved in the complex transfer is the DIS Group, which claims that the 21 year old had broken the terms and conditions of their deal by not telling them about Barca’s offer in 2011.

The Catalan giants paid Neymar’s father 10million pounds  up front over two years ago – with the other 30milion  pounds  to be paid following an eventual transfer – to ensure that he helped ease through the deal at the expense of other interested clubs, such as Real Madrid.


Abramovich looking to cut losses on Torres

Signed from Liverpool to Chelsea for a whopping £50 million, Spaniard Fernando Torres has always been topical since his arrival at Stamford Bridge making as he has proved to be the player the Blues can rely on.

An arrow head in the Blues team,in terms of formation, Chelsea’s Russian owner is considering to cut his losses on the £50 million man, tagging  Torres with an ultimatum of one more month to prove pundits wrong and deliver like he used to while he was at Liverpool.

Meanwhile, Abramovich is not sleeping with his two eyes as Chelsea moved on another striker to likely replace Torres and  Brazilian striker, Taison was the choice of the Stamford Bridge club,  as reports indicate that he will sign a £10 million deal next week ahead of the opening of the January transfer window.

Taison was at Stamford Bridge to witness the 0-0 bore draw with Fulham.

The 24-year-old, a former Internacional team-mate of Chelsea’s big money summer signing Oscar, was tracked in the summer. His name has come to greater attention this season following his spectacular Marco Van Basten-esque volley for his club Metalist Kharkiv in the Europa League three weeks ago.

Benitez, on a short-term deal until the end of the season, still believes he can help Torres recapture the form he showed under him during his spell at Anfield.

When asked about Torres’ contribution in the back-to-back goalless draws over the past week, Benitez said: “We have had, maybe, five training sessions.

“It’s still too early. But for me we are watching things that are positive.”

Torres is currently on a run of 648 minutes without a Premier League goal, and has managed just one shot on target during Rafa’s first two games in charge.

Brazil super kid; Neymar ends transfer speculations

Neymar has ended any hope of any European club aiming to get the signature of Brazil’s wonder kid as he expressed his desire to milk out his contract with Brazilian club side Santos which will keep him there till 2014.

One of world football’s most sought-after young talents, who has turned the eyes of the world to his direction with his superfluous moves on the field of play, has had some of the biggest clubs in Europe seek his service but he decided to snub lucrative moves to Europe.

Barcelona were widely believed to be the frontrunners to sign the striker, though Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United have all been credited with an interest.

Santos president Luis Alvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro revealed earlier this month that a proposed move to Stamford Bridge over the summer never materialized, while Man City boss Roberto Mancini has said he would discuss Neymar’s situation with new director of football Txiki Begiristain.

Neymar himself has always been keen to play down any talk of a move to Europe, stressing the benefits of developing his game in the Brasileirao.

That has not stopped the speculation, however, and the forward appeared exasperated when he was quizzed about his future in New Jersey, where he is with the Brazilian national team for a friendly with Colombia.

Chelsea on the verge of losing Neymar to Barca

London club Chelsea may have to do without Brazilian playmaker; Neymar (possibly to replace Ivorien Didier Drogba) if nothing extra is done to lure the player to England, as his Brazilian team-mate Dani Alves urged him to join Barcelona.

Neymar a long-term target of Chelsea may move to Spain instead of the Premier League after Barcelona right back Alves said he would be a success at the Nou Camp.

Chelsea also has Brazilian stars such as Oscar who could sway Neymar to join Stamford Bridge, if the need arises.

Alves said “Obviously anybody would want to play for Barcelona,” Alves said.

“If Barcelona is interested in Neymar and if next month, next year or in two years he comes, I don’t know.

“I hope he does come here because, as I’ve already said, he would get better as a player and he would also improve the team.”

20-year-old Brazil striker would have been signed by the Blues last summer but according to report, the deal didn’t go well.