WORLD Brazil’s vaccination plan is assailed as ‘incompetent’

WORLD

Brazil’s vaccination plan is assailed as ‘incompetent’

AFP

20:19, December 14, 2020

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro faced scathing criticism Sunday over his government's plan - or lack thereof, opponents said - to vaccinate the population against COVID-19 in Brazil, the country with the second-highest death toll worldwide.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attends a celebration ceremony of the Aviator's Day and Brazilian Air Force Day in Brasilia, Brazil, October 23. (Photo: Xinhua)

Brazil published its vaccination plan Saturday with notable holes, including a start date and details of how to reach its target of 70 percent of the population.

That prompted a new salvo of criticism of the far-right president, who has persistently defied expert advice on containing the pandemic and recently declared he did not plan to be vaccinated.

"Enough shenanigans with the vaccine!" leading newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo said in a front-page editorial.

"President Jair Bolsonaro's murderous stupidity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic has surpassed all limits."

Rival daily Estado de Sao Paulo condemned the government's "lethal incompetence."

"Faced with the worst health crisis of our era, this government's response will be remembered as disastrous in every sense... right up to its vaccination plan," it said.

The plan, which the Supreme Court required the government to present, gives a rough sketch of the target populations and vaccines to be used in Brazil's initial immunization drive. It envisions four phases targeting sensitive groups, including health workers, the elderly, indigenous Brazilians and teachers, for a total of 51.6 million people, or 24 percent of the population of 212 million.

The plan says the optimal target is to vaccinate more than 70 percent of the population but provides no details on how to reach that figure.

Experts said details on the timeline, logistics and sources of vaccines were also lacking.

Supreme Court Justice Ricardo Lewandowski ordered the government to set the start date for the vaccination drive within 48 hours.

"It would be irresponsible to give a specific date... because it depends on the registration" at Brazil's regulatory agency, deputy health minister Elcio Franco responded in a video message. "The federal government is not going to announce anything irresponsibly."

A group of public health experts whose names appeared on the plan, meanwhile, said in a statement they had not been consulted on the final text.

"We never saw any version of this document," said one, epidemiologist Ethel Maciel.

Other experts were bluntly critical of the plan.

"The health ministry is trying to make the Brazilian people and the Supreme Court look like clowns," tweeted microbiologist Natalia Pasternak, a regular critic of the government's response to COVID-19.She pointed out that the plan counted on 70 million doses of US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer's vaccine.

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