Brazil vaccine scandal poses a new political threat to Jair Bolsonaro

Opponents of Jair Bolsonaro have captured the ongoing scandal in Brazil regarding the procurement of coronavirus vaccines to inflame the political enthusiasm of the right-wing president.

Allegations of corruption in the purchase of 20 million doses of the Covaxin vaccine made in India have sparked criticism of the government’s handling of the vaccine. PandemicIn Latin America, the most populous country, more than 500,000 deaths have been caused.

This controversy also occurred during Bolsonaro’s politically sensitive period, and he is preparing for next year’s re-election campaign.

He lags behind in the polls Luis Inacio Lula da SilvaThe former left-wing president is expected to run in 2022 after being convicted of corruption earlier this year.

The core of the Covaxin incident was the claim that a public servant of the health department was pressured by a senior government official to sign an injection order produced by Bharat Biotech, despite possible violations of paperwork.

The agreed price of the vaccine is US$15 per dose, which is more expensive than other vaccines purchased in Brazil.

Although Covaxin has not yet completed its late-stage clinical trials, there are questions about the role of the company as an intermediary and why it signed the contract before reaching a deal with Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical unit Janssen.

Federal member Luis Miranda is the brother of the whistleblower who first pointed out the issue of Covaxin’s contract. He said they personally raised this concern with Bolsonaro in March.

The Bolsonaro government denied any wrongdoing in the 1.6 billion reais ($320 million) acquisition jab agreement reached in February. The President insisted that no payment was made because none of the vials were shipped.

“I can’t know what will happen to the ministries, I believe the minister. We did nothing wrong,” he told supporters this week.

Even so, the Ministry of Health temporarily suspended the Covaxin contract on Tuesday based on the recommendations of the Federal Auditor General.

These revelations provided the impetus for the former army captain’s opponent. In the fire Denied the severity of Covid-19 at home and abroad.

After Miranda and his brother testified before Congress last week investigating the government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis, three senators accused the president of failing to act on these reports and filed criminal proceedings in the Supreme Court.

“After being informed of the Ministry of Health’s massive corruption plan, he did not take any action. Prevarication is a crime,” said Senator Randolfe Rodrigues, vice chairman of the committee.

The Federal Attorney’s Office is independently investigating Covaxin’s negotiations.

Opposition lawmakers are scheduled to submit a motion on Wednesday to begin impeachment proceedings against Bolsonaro, aiming to unify the arguments of more than 100 separate requests that have been made against him.

“It is clear that this government is not only genocide, but also corrupt,” said Elvino Bongas, the deputy of the left-wing Workers’ Party.

The Presidential Palace and the Ministry of Health did not respond to requests for comment. Bharat has previously denied any wrongdoing in the supply of Covaxin.

At present, analysts say that Bolsonaro is unlikely to be removed from office because any impeachment request must be approved by the Speaker of the House of Commons, and he has so far expressed no intention to continue.

Opinion polls show that despite the decline in support, the president still has more than 20% of voters’ support.

But developments underscore the pressure on Bolsonaro, whose reputation lies in Congress investigation This has overshadowed Brasilia’s response to the public health crisis.

During the TV broadcast, witnesses spoke of the president’s support for untrustworthy medications, such as hydroxychloroquine, and accused the government of ignoring dozens of emails about Pfizer’s vaccine supply.

To date, only 12% of Brazil’s 210 million people are fully immune to the virus.

Jimena Blanco, head of research at Verisk Maplecroft Americas, said the vaccine scandal has further weakened Bolsonaro’s congressional support, which will make it more difficult to promote important economic reforms.

“We cannot ignore these revelations and lead the Supreme Court to investigate suspected crimes committed while in office,” she said. “This process will be much faster than political impeachment.”

The decision is in the hands of Bolsonaro’s ally, Attorney General Augusto Arras, who must assess the senator’s complaints about “prevarication.” The crime is defined as the failure of a public official to perform his duties due to personal interests and can be punished with up to one year’s imprisonment and fine.

Davi Tangerino, a professor of criminal law at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, said that Arras may request the closure of the case due to insufficient evidence, expand the scope of the investigation, or file a lawsuit against the president.

“If the Attorney General chooses to file the case, the judicial department cannot do anything about it,” he added.

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