June 25, 2021
1. CPI investigates alleged fraud in purchase of vaccines; accusation includes the president
The COVID parliamentary inquiry (CPI) is investigating an accusation made by a Ministry of Health employee who claims he faced pressure from his superiors to speed up the importation of the Covaxin vaccine at a higher cost despite the lack of mandatory documentation. Luis Ricardo Miranda and his brother – federal representative Luis Miranda – claim that they warned President Jair Bolsonaro about the issue during a meeting. According to them, Bolsonaro had promised to send the Federal Police to investigate the accusation, but this has not happened. According to members of the CPI, the case could result in the president being charged with the crime of prevarication. Bolsonaro and his ministers deny the accusation and say that nothing has been paid for yet.
The public servant refused to sign a purchase contract for Covaxin when he realized that the 4 million doses ordered had been reduced to 300,000 despite the advance payment remaining at USD $45 million. A month after the accusation, the federal government ordered 20 million doses of the vaccine for R$ 1.61 billion. The price of the dose, which was USD $1.34 ended up at USD $15 (R$ 80.70). This cost is higher than the CoronaVac (R$ 58.20), Pfizer (R$ 56.30) and Oxford/AstraZeneca (R$ 19.87) vaccines. President Bolsonaro claims that he ordered the Federal Police to investigate the men who made the accusation. Government aids have considered cancelling the purchase.
Folha de S.Paulo: CPI vê chance de responsabilizar o presidente
O Estado de S. Paulo: Bolsonaro nega irregularidade e critica CPI
O Estado de S. Paulo: Deputado diz que Bolsonaro foi avisado
G1: Entenda o caso da Covaxin
Folha de S.Paulo: Acompanhe a CPI da Covid
2. Disapproval of the federal government reaches 49% and trust in Bolsonaro drops
The approval rating of Jair Bolsonaro’s administration is once again below the usual safe zone of 30% according to research by IPEC (an institute founded by former directors from IBOPE Inteligência, which closed). The approval rate for the administration dropped from 28% in February to 24%. The disapproval rating, on the other hand, increased from 39% to 49% in the same period. Both indexes have a 2% margin of error. The researchers interviewed 2,002 people in 14 cities from June 17th to June 21st – before the media published the accusations of fraud in the purchase of the Covaxin vaccine. In May, according to a Datafolha poll, Bolsonaro had an approval rating of 24%.
The poll also shows that the level of trust Brazilians have in the president has dropped. According to the poll, the number of people who say they trust Bolsonaro dropped from 36% to 30%. The number of people who say they do not trust the President increased from 61% in February up to 68%. In a poll about the presidential election – which will take place in October next year – IPEC shows former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva leads with 49% of voting intentions, followed by Jair Bolsonaro (23%), Ciro Gomes (7%), João Doria (5%) and Luiz Henrique Mandetta (3%).
3. Environment Minister resigns after 30 months following criminal allegations
On Wednesday, Environment Minister Ricardo Salles resigned. He is being investigated by the Federal Police – at the request of the Federal Supreme Court – on accusations of corruption, administrative advocacy, prevarication and facilitating the smuggling of lumber abroad. Salles Is the 16th member of the Bolsonaro administration to resign. In his two and a half years in office, Salles has faced criticism from many different sectors for his policy of weakening the systems to protect forests.
Salles has also been involved in a controversy when – at a meeting of the president with ministers – Salles said that the pandemic would allow the government to ease legal obstacles to deforestation. “We need to make an effort while we are in this calm moment in terms of press coverage – because they are only talking about COVID – and push through and change all the rules and simplify norms.” The former minister said that he has performed his job “the best way possible” in the past two years and a half. During this period, deforestation increased. Joaquim Pereira Leite, who is close with both Salles and Jair Bolsonaro, is the new environment minister.
4. 47% of people aged 15-29 want to leave the country to improve their lives
A conjunctural analysis of a series of studies suggests that – if they were capable of doing so – 47% of young people aged 15 to 29 years would leave Brazil in search of better opportunities. This is the largest percentage of disillusioned people since 2005, when 26.7% of young people wanted to leave. The study was conducted by Atlas da Juventudes and FGV Social/CPS based on data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, Gallup World Poll and the United Nations. It shows that 27.1% out of the 50.6 million people in this age range did not study or work in 2020.
Researchers warn that – if the job market situation for this age group does not improve – the country will lose the largest potential for growth and productivity. With the pandemic, the number of people aged 15 to 29 years who are out of work increased from 49.4% to 56.3%. Last year, 70% of people said that they had trouble finding work. The situation also affects the perception of government policies. Data from Gallup World Poll reveals that approval ratings of the government among this age group dropped from 60.6% in 2005 to 12.1% currently. The average approval rating of governments around the world has been at 57% in the past 10 years.
Folha de S.Paulo: Metade dos jovens quer deixar o país
5. U.S. donates vaccines to Brazil and Brazilian government asks for help from the World Bank
The U.S. government has confirmed the donation of 3 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine manufactured by Janssen – which only requires a single dose. This number of doses is the largest among all the countries that will receive help from the U.S. This week, a lack of doses affected vaccination in many Brazilians cities, including state capitals such as São Paulo. Stocks have been partially refilled. Brazil currently uses mostly CoronaVac and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines. In the third quarter of the year, the government expects to increase vaccination with the Pfizer and Janssen vaccines. So far, only 12% of Brazilians have been fully vaccinated.
The federal government has requested a USD $600 million loan from the World Bank to purchase vaccines. The Brazilian government sent the request on June 18th. The Ministry of Health admits that economic recovery is pending on vaccinations, contrary to what President Jair Bolsonaro claims. In the document requesting the loan, the ministry asks for help “during the hardest moment of the pandemic, unlike in other parts of the world, where the number of cases and deaths have dropped.” Over 509,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Brazil. The number of cases is also growing continuously, with more than 18.2 million people having been diagnosed.