May 28, 2021
1. Accused of lying to the CPI, Pazuello says everyone is responsible for the crisis
Former Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello was questioned for two days at the COVID CPI, which is investigating the federal government’s negligence in handling the pandemic and misappropriation of funds by states and municipalities. In his deposition, Pazuello denied that he authorized the purchase of hydroxychloroquine and that he delayed buying the Pfizer vaccine in 2020. He also denied that President Jair Bolsonaro interfered in the ministry. However, during 16 hours of deposition, the former minister said that a meeting which included the president and members of the Ministry of Health resulted in a decision to not interfere in Amazonas, when the state ran out of hospital oxygen. The decision was approved by the president.
When questioned about the worsening of the pandemic in the country, Pazuello said that everyone in the government had a portion of blame for the crisis. Senator Renan Calheiros – the rapporteur of the CPI – counted 15 contradictions in Pazuello’s deposition. “He flagrantly lied,” he said. Pazuello said that he did not receive orders to cancel the purchase of CoronaVac, for example, even though the former-minister and the president himself said the opposite in a video: “[The president] gives orders and the other obeys.” Yesterday, Bolsonaro complimented Pazuello and said that “the CPI is shameful.”
2. Administration lowers vaccine delivery estimate and approves testing of new serum in 3,000 people
The Ministry of Health has once again lowered the estimate for the quantity of doses of the coronavirus vaccine that will be available in June. In total, 43.8 million doses will be delivered – 8.4 million less than the 52.2 million previously announced. According to Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga, on June 1st, a deal will be signed allowing Fiocruz to produce the ingredients that are currently imported from China. 20.7% of people in Brazil have been vaccinated with the first dose and 10.2% have received both doses.
This week, the federal government authorized Instituto Butantan to begin human testing with a serum against COVID-19 in 3,000 people. Up until now, the new medication – which was created to improve the condition of hospitalized patients – had only been tested on animals. The animals have responded well to the treatment and have had a reduction in the viral loads as well as an improvement in lung conditions. According to researchers, if the serum proves to be effective, it could be used to treat infected patients with symptoms, controlling the spread of the disease.
3. COVID CPI summons 9 governors for deposition and calls for Pazuello to be heard again
The COVID parliamentary inquiry will summon nine governors to explain the suspected misappropriation of funds meant for the fight against the pandemic. Members of the CPI are aiming to address the criticism they faced of just focusing on the federal government. Some senators involved in the inquiry, however, expect that the Federal Supreme Court will veto the summoning, as investigating governors is the responsibility of state deputies. The CPI has also summoned both the current health minister Marcelo Queiroga and former health minister Eduardo Pazuello to be heard again.
This week, Instituto Butantan Director Dimas Covas said at the CPI that public statements made by President Jair Bolsonaro delayed the beginning of vaccinations with the CoronaVac vaccine by at least three months. According to him, if not for Bolsonaro, Brazil would have 100 million doses by June 2021. Before Covas’ deposition, Secretary of Management in Health Work Mayra Pinheiro – also known as “Captain Chloroquine” told the commission that Pazuello learned about the lack of oxygen in Manaus three days before the date he claimed during his deposition. Pinheiro also said that the Ministry of Health recommended the use of chloroquine in the preventive treatment of COVID-19, which Pazuello had denied.
Folha de S.Paulo: CPI da Covid convoca 9 governadores
G1: Bolsonaro atrapalhou entrega de vacinas, diz diretor do Butantan
O Globo: ‘Capitã Cloroquina’ desmente Pazuello na CPI
Folha de S.Paulo: Leia mais sobre a CPI da Covid
4. Preview of official inflation rate for the month of May at 0.44%, suggesting deceleration
The preview of the official inflation rate for the month of May is 0.44%, which suggests deceleration. This figure is close to half the rate experienced during last month’s peak at 0.86%, the highest monthly rate since 2016. In the past 12 months, the inflation rate has accumulated to 7.7%. The government’s goal for the inflation rate is 3.75%, with a tolerance between 2.25% and 5.25%. According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), this month’s preview was lower than the preview for April (0.60%). The accumulated rate for the year is 3.27%.
IBGE’s poll reveals that eight out of nine groups of products and services that they assessed had price increases in May. The healthcare sector had a 1.23% price increase, followed by the housing sector (0.79%) and the food and beverages sector (0.48%). When analyzing items separately, the increase in the price of electricity (2.31%) caused the largest impact alongside the adjustment of prices of cooking gas (for the 12th consecutive month) and the increase in the prices of medications.
5. Brain drain from Brazil to the US is the largest in the past 10 years
Migration data from the U.S. State Department reveal that there was a 36% increase in visa requests by Brazilians in the EB2 category, the so-called “exceptional professionals”. In total, 1,899 qualified people have left Brazil in 2020, most of them doctors, nurses and physiotherapists, as well as experts in other sectors such as aviation and engineering. It is the largest brain drain to the U.S. in the past 10 years.
The increase in the number of qualified Brazilians entering the U.S. occurred despite the 48% decline in visas being issued by the U.S. government in 2020 due to the pandemic. Since March 2020, consular interviews have been interrupted and visa requests have yet to be processed. According to César Eduardo Fernandes, president of the Brazilian Medical Association, the brain drain is worrying for the health sector. “We are talking about highly qualified professionals, who are extremely valuable in these terrible times. The pandemic has revealed the awful work conditions [in the health sector] in Brazil,” he said.
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