January 22, 2021


1. Vaccination campaign begins with very few doses and India says it will send doses to Brazil

Five days after the vaccination campaign against the coronavirus was launched in São Paulo – by Governor João Doria – the average number of people vaccinated every day in the state is around 18,000. The situation is similar across the entire country. Data from the Federal District and five other states show that a little over 109,000 people have been vaccinated as of yesterday evening (50,000 in São Paulo). The 6 million doses that have been made available are not even enough for health professionals (5.9 million) to receive both of the required shots. With the first batch of the CoronaVac vaccine, many states are planning to vaccinate only 30% of the people working on the frontline of the pandemic. The beginning of the vaccination campaign in São Paulo has exposed the frailty of the Bolsonaro administration – launching its vaccination campaign second and needing to use the São Paulo vaccine.

This week, the federal government was again caught in a controversy for not having received the 2 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine that the Ministry of Health had promised for Saturday (16th) but which will only arrive today. Last week an airplane was reserved to collect the doses from India, but the country refused to distribute the vaccine at the time and the government’s mission was aborted. Over 214,000 Brazilians have died from the virus and 8.7 million have been infected.

O Estado de S. Paulo: Índia libera remessa de vacinas para o Brasil
Folha de S.Paulo: Primeira leva da vacina acaba dia 31
G1: Com poucas doses, estados racionam vacinas
Folha de S.Paulo: Em várias cidades, políticos furam fila da vacina

2. Lack of pharmaceutical ingredients delays Brazilian vaccine production 

The lack of ingredients for the coronavirus vaccine has majorly affected Brazilian production of the drug. The active pharmaceutical ingredient is produced by China. In São Paulo, Instituto Butantan says that they have enough ingredients to produce the vaccine this month, but they rely on the compound being sent from China to produce new batches of CoronaVac. In Rio de Janeiro, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz has postponed production of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine until March.

The Chinese government – which has been criticized by President Jair Bolsonaro – has been pressured to accelerate the process of sending the ingredients. Yesterday, Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said that Chinese ambassador to Brazil, Yang Wanming, will support Brazil to accelerate the bureaucracy surrounding the transportation of the ingredients. According to the minister, the government is acting ahead of the problem, as the deadline for the delivery hasn’t yet been reached.

O Globo: Ministro diz que China vai “destravar” envio
Folha de S.Paulo: Falta de insumo ameaça vacinação no Brasil
O Globo: Fiocruz adia entrega da vacina Oxford para março
G1: Acompanhe notícias sobre a pandemia

3. In a letter to Joe Biden, Bolsonaro discusses the environmental partnership with the US

President Jair Bolsonaro sent a diplomatic letter congratulating Joe Biden for his inauguration and reaffirming his trust in the “long and solid” bilateral relationship between the two countries, including specific environmental goals. “We are ready to continue our partnership towards sustainable development and the protection of the environment, especially the Amazon, based on our recent conversation about the environment,” he wrote. This week, the Imazon Institute pointed out that deforestation has hit a 10-year record high.

The American President’s environmental agenda will require diplomacy from Brazil, according to specialists. During his campaign, Biden promised US$ 20 billion to protect the Amazon, but he has threatened to take action if the Brazilian government fails to act to curb deforestation. As the US returns to the Paris Agreement, International Relations expert Carlos Poggio says that “Brazil could become a priority in a negative way.” Former ambassador Rubens Barbosa says that disagreements, combined with Europe’s stance on the matter, create “negative consequences for the Brazilian economy and Brazilian products abroad.”

O Estado de S. Paulo: Bolsonaro fala sobre ambiente em carta a Biden
CNN: Ex-embaixador diz que Brasil terá de se ajustar aos EUA
TV Globo: Desmatamento é o maior em 10 anos na Amazônia

4. Federal government considers new salary cuts and suspension of contracts

The federal government is considering authorizing companies to promote salary cuts and suspension of work contracts in an effort to save jobs in Brazil. The economic team views such measures as alternatives to the emergency aid – which was paid to people with low-incomes – distributed last year. The government is thinking of the financial cost of the measure. Last year, the administration paid R$ 51.5 billion (US$9.41 billion) to cover deals made by companies.

According to the Ministry of Economy, nearly 10 million workers have benefited from nearly 20 million work agreements. Over 1.4 million companies have made deals with employees. Renewing the Program for Income and Employment Preservation also depends on the election of the new presidents of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, which will happen in February. The newly elected members of Congress could start a movement forcing the government to pay the emergency aid until the pandemic is over.

Valor Econômico: Governo pode liberar corte de salário novamente

5. For the third consecutive time, Committee maintains the basic interest rate at 2%

The Central Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee has kept the basic interest rate at 2% this year. This was the third consecutive time that the rate has been kept at this historical low. The Committee’s minutes indicate that inflation could be lower than expected this year if economic activity continues to be supressed in Brazil. However, policies introduced in response to the pandemic that caused harm to the financial trajectory of the country could lead to an increase in inflation.

The main inflation goal for this year is 3.75%, but the Extended National Consumer Price Index – the official inflation index – could be between 2.25% and 5.25%, which would be within the goal. For 2022, after vaccination campaigns and with the possibility of economic recovery, the inflation goal is 3.5%, which will be met if the index remains between 2% to 5%. Last year, readjustments in the prices of food affected the inflation rate, which hit 4.52% – the highest since 2016.

O Globo: Copom mantém taxa básica de juros em 2%