July 16, 2021
1. CPI witness confirms government bribe request for vaccine purchase
Davati Medical Supply’s Brazilian commercial representative Cristiano Carvalho confirmed to the COVID parliamentary inquiry (CPI) that he was aware of the government negotiating the purchase of 400 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The deal was made without the approval of the pharmaceutical company and on the condition of an additional USD $1 per dose of the vaccine as a bribe. According to Carvalho, the “deal” was mediated by military personnel and evangelical NGO, Senah. Carvalho said he was consulted and that he has kept records of WhatsApp conversations with former Ministry of Health logistics director Roberto Ferreira Dias.
According to senators who are part of the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee, the statement indicates that it is true that the Ministry of Health consulted with private companies with impossible offers for vaccines instead of buying doses directly from manufacturers such as Pfizer. Carvalho’s deposition led government leader in the Senate Fernando Bezerra (MDB-PE) to publicly express that he was ashamed. “I would like to say I am uncomfortable with the conversations held between Davati representatives and former or current public servants,” he said.
2. Hospitalized due to intestinal obstruction, president continues to criticize CPI
Despite having been hospitalized since Wednesday due to an intestinal obstruction, President Jair Bolsonaro has continued to repeat his claim that the COVID CPI has no proof of corruption in his administration. “At the moment, they want to accuse us of corruption, but nothing has been proven nor has a single real been paid,” the president wrote, adding that the parliamentary investigation is led by “three losers,” referring to senators Omar Aziz, Randolfe Rodrigues and Renan Calheiros. “In the circus that is the CPI, Renan, Omar and Skipper (Randolfe) are more three losers than three stooges,” he said.
This week, the president cancelled a planned meeting with the presidents of the Federal Supreme Court, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies that had been arranged by the National Coordination Committee to Fight the COVID-19 Pandemic. Bolsonaro had been complaining of hiccups for days. On Wednesday, he was submitted to a hospital in Brasília before being transferred to São Paulo. According to a medical report from Hospital Vila Nova Star, Bolsonaro is responding “satisfactorily” to the treatment, but there are no plans for his release.
3. Vaccine coverage depends on 200 million more doses, says study
Brazil needs to give 200 million additional jabs to reach complete vaccine coverage against the coronavirus according to a study by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) in partnership with the University of São Paulo (USP). According to researchers, if the doses are not available and if the speed of vaccination coverage is not increased “considerably,” immunization of at least 90% of people over 18 years of age will not be reached until next year. Experts say that the number of people who have taken the first dose of the vaccine but have not completed immunization through the second dose is high.
Although the pace of vaccination has not increased, the national immunization campaign has given the first dose of the vaccine to 41% of Brazilians and the second dose to 15.4%. Researchers say that in order to reach the target of fully immunizing at least 90% of the population, 176 million jabs must be given by December. Their calculations indicate that 81% of Brazilians were still not immune to the virus as of July 8th. The country has been registering a decrease in the daily number of deaths. So far, 539,000 people have died, and 19.2 million people have been diagnosed with the disease.
4. Government projects inflation rate above annual target at 5.9%
The federal government has raised its projection for this year’s official inflation rate from 5.05% to 5.9% – well above the 5.2% ceiling planned by the Central Bank. From June 2020 to June 2021, the accumulated inflation rate was 8.35%. According to Economic Policy Secretary Adolfo Sachsida, the increase in prices can be seen globally, meaning that reforms are needed to find fiscal balance. “The faster and more consistently we move forward, the faster we will get better economic results,” he said.
The federal government has also revaluated the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth projection for the year, going from 3.5% to 5.3%, which is slightly higher than the market expectation. This is a sign of optimism in relation to a return of economic activities. The vaccination rate, an elevated rate for savings accounts and an increase in investments, combined with international market liquidity are all causes for this positive revaluation. Last month, the World Bank predicted 4.5% growth for Brazil, below its prediction for India (8.3%), Argentina (6.4%) and Mexico (5%).
Folha de S.Paulo: Inflação deve estourar a meta
5. Research reveals that part of the Amazon produces more CO2 than it absorbs
A study led by Luciana Gatti from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and published this week, indicates that some regions of the Amazon rainforest are producing more CO2 than they absorb. Based on air samples from 2010 to 2018, the study reveals that the southeast of the Amazon has actually become a source of CO2 emissions. With this data, the researchers concluded that in the last 50 years, plants and soil increased their CO2 emissions by 50%, while absorption rate only increased by around 25%.
According to researchers, this is the first time a study has revealed the decrease in the absorption potential of the forest. The increase in temperature caused by deforestation and also longer-lasting drought has caused trees to emit more of the gases. Carbon emission rates are higher in the eastern region of the Amazon, especially due to frequent fires. However, the southeastern region, which encompasses Maranhão, Pará, Mato Grosso and Tocantins is the most endangered area.