In his speech at the World Health Assembly this morning, Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga skipped the death toll from Covid-19 in Brazil and declared that one of the priorities of Jair Bolsonaro’s government is to fight corruption in his industry.
In the speech of the representative of the Jair Bolsonaro government in Geneva, the main message of WHO was not that the pandemic is over, but the fact that the numbers are starting to increase again in 70 countries around the world. World. “The crisis is far from over,” said WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus, minutes before the Brazilian’s speech and using exactly the same podium.
With the second-highest death toll in the world since the start of the pandemic, Brazil is attending the main WHO meeting in Geneva this week, and the minister took office trying to restore his image of representing a denialist government. The meeting also coincides with the start of the election process, with the date the government has set to determine the end of the state of emergency in the country.
While speaking, Queiroga penetrated his speech into some of the main points of Bolsonaro’s campaigns and his allies. For example, he insisted on reinforcing the government’s thesis that Brazil “protects life from fertilization”, citing the WHO’s advances in its proposal to decriminalize abortion. The minister also insisted on strengthening the issue of state sovereignty, making it clear that he was not only a supporter of a multilateral system.
But he focused his speech on the president’s administration’s defense in the face of the pandemic, suggesting that the focus was working.
“From the beginning, Bolsonaro’s government has worked to protect lives and balance social justice and health,” he said.
Despite complaints presented at the Covid CPI, Queiroga insisted that one of the government’s priorities is tackling corruption in the healthcare system.
The minister also highlighted the US$110 billion investment in SUS and its ability to triple disease monitoring and primary care, according to him.
Queiroga also ignored that Brazil had underestimated its vaccine consortium for months and that it took a long time to purchase vaccines. In his speech, he preferred to state that the country alone has obtained 650 million vaccines and that more than 80% of the population has completed their vaccinations.
He also explained that Brazil had reduced the death toll by 90%, without citing the more than 665,000 deaths.
“The pandemic is not over yet,” said Tedros.
The tone delivered by WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus was quite different. According to him, “the world was not and still is not ready to deal with an emergency”. He even warned that “the epidemic is far from over”.
Talking to ministers, he also highlighted how the health crisis is holding back progress in dozens of other areas and putting 2 billion people in a state of economic crisis to be able to pay for healthcare.
The day before, Tedros criticized the widespread disinformation used by Bolsonaro’s government, making it clear that the pandemic is not over. “It won’t magically disappear,” he said.
“Restrictions have been lifted in many countries and life seems to be the same as before. Is the epidemic over? No. It’s definitely not over,” he said.
“It wasn’t the message you wanted to hear. But it wasn’t what I wanted to say. But it’s the truth,” Tedros told ministers around the world.
According to him, there is progress and the vaccine reaches 60% of the world’s population. However, only 57% of countries managed to exceed 70% of their vaccinated population.
Tedros emphasized that in recent weeks, more than 70 countries have recorded an increase in cases. “The pandemic will not end until it ends all over the world,” he said. “The virus has taken us by surprise and we cannot yet predict its speed or intensity,” he added.