November 27, 2020


1. Federal government reaches out to 5 different labs, but does not reveal vaccination strategy

The Ministry of Health will sign letters of intent – with no commercial obligation – with five pharmaceutical companies that are currently in the final phases of clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines. The deals are with companies Pfizer, Jansen, Bharat Biotech, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Moderna. The deal does not include the Chinese lab Sinovac, which will produce a vaccine in partnership with the São Paulo State Government under Governor João Doria – a political adversary of Jair Bolsonaro.

This week, the Federal Supreme Court ruled that the administration has 30 days in which to present a plan for mass vaccination against the coronavirus. This is the second time that the government has pressured to do so. The first request came from the Federal Court of Accounts. According to a study by Imperial College London, the rate of coronavirus contamination in Brazil has doubled in the last 15 days – from 0.68 on the 9th to 1.30 on the 23rd. This means that every 100 people with the virus will infect another 130. Over 171,000 people have already died from coronavirus in Brazil.

Folha de S.Paulo: Governo se aproxima de 5 fabricantes de vacina
O Estado de S. Paulo: Taxa de transmissão de coronavírus dobra em 15 dias
Valor Econômico: STF cobra plano de vacinação nacional
O Globo: Compare taxa de eficácia e previsão de preço das vacinas

2. Unused, 15 million COVID-19 tests could be thrown away

Amid a pandemic, Brazil could throw away nearly 15 million coronavirus tests because they haven’t been used by their expiration dates. This information comes from the Brazilian Chamber of Laboratory Diagnosis. According to the administration, the diagnostic kits can only be used if there is technical confirmation from the manufacturers that the tests are still effective and if they print a new deadline for recommended use. The Senate has demanded an explanation from the Ministry of Health. President Jair Bolsonaro says that the tests are the responsibility of states and municipalities.

6.86 million tests have been stored in the Ministry of Health’s deposit in the state of São Paulo. Unused, they will be past their expiration dates in a couple of months. This is a greater number than the 5 million tests that have been administered through the public health system. According to state health secretariats, the federal government has sent incomplete test kits, with many containing no reagents, swabs or test tubes.

O Estado de S. Paulo: Sem uso, milhões de testes para o Covid-19 podem ser jogados no lixo
Folha de S.Paulo: Congresso pede explicações ao ministro da Saúde
O Globo: Presidente diz que responsabilidade é dos estados e municípios
G1: Acompanhe notícias sobre a pandemia

3. Increased food prices due to ‘stay at home’ campaign, says President

This week, President Jair Bolsonaro has blamed social isolation during the coronavirus pandemic for the significant increase in food prices. According to him, it is not possible to “set fixed prices” in order to change the “imbalance” in the market. “People have complained about the price of food. It has indeed increased beyond normal. We are sorry for that. But it’s also a consequence of the ‘stay at home’ campaign. They almost broke our economy,” he said. Bolsonaro has often criticized restrictive measures that have been adopted since the beginning of the pandemic and his statements come in response to criticism from his followers on social media.

According to a preview of this month’s Extended National Consumer Price Index (IPCA) – the country’s official inflation rate -, the increase in food prices and industrial items have caused a 0.81% increase in the inflation rate, above what was expected by experts. Soybean oil (14.8%), rice (9.29%) and beef (4.89%) registered the largest increases in a month. The goal for the year is an inflation rate of 4%. In the past 12 months, the cost of food increased by 19.9%.

Folha de S.Paulo: Bolsonaro culpa pandemia por alta de alimentos
Valor Econômico: Alimentos pressionam prévia da inflação

4. People benefited by emergency aid donated R$ 54 million to political candidates

Over 65,000 people who have been benefited by the emergency aid – an amount paid by the federal government to people in poverty, people who are unemployed or in vulnerable situations – have been responsible for R$ 54 million in donations to political candidates, according to the Superior Electoral Court. Data obtained by the Federal Revenue Department, the Electoral Prosecutor’s Office and the Council for Financial Activities Control reveals that the value of irregular donations – deemed suspicious or already under investigation – totalled R$ 440 million during the first round of elections alone.

On Sunday, more than 38 million citizens will vote in second round elections across 57 cities. Out of those, 18 state capitals will elect mayors whose terms will last from 2021 to 2024. The largest city in the country – São Paulo – is one of these cities. The Superior Electoral Court has performed tests to avoid a repeat of the slow vote count that occurred on November 15th. The use of masks, controlled distancing and protocols such as using hand sanitizer before and after voting continue to be mandatory.

Folha de S.Paulo: Beneficiários do auxílio emergencial doaram R$ 54 milhões
TV Globo: 57 cidades realizarão 2º turno das eleições no domingo
Folha de S.Paulo: Acompanhe notícias sobre as eleições

5. Bolsonaro’s son criticizes China on 5G and causes diplomacy issue

This week, President Jair Bolsonaro is once again involved in a diplomatic faux-pas with China. Responsible for the latest situation was the President’s son Eduardo Bolsonaro (PSL-SP). He posted a statement of support for the United States’ Clean Network bill, which proposes banning Huawei and other Chinese manufacturers from the 5G international market. In his post, Eduardo says he is in favor of Brazil being part of the agreement in order to “repudiate acts of espionage by the Chinese.”

The Chinese Embassy in Brazil registered a formal complaint with the Brazilian government against Eduardo’s behavior. The President’s son is president of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Chamber of Deputies. The Embassy also posted a statement on social media saying that Eduardo has made “disgraceful” and disrespectful statements and that, if accusations do not cease, they will have to deal with the “negative consequences” and “disturb the normality of the relationship between China and Brazil.” Eduardo deleted his post. Yesterday, the Foreign Relations Department of Brazil criticized the Chinese Embassy for publishing their statement on social media, considering the exposition “offensive”. The situation immediately affected trade relations. Agribusiness representatives informed Chinese authorities that Eduardo’s statements are “isolated and do not reflect the position of the Brazilian people.”

O Globo: China repreende filho de Bolsonaro após críticas sobre 5G
Valor Econômico: Para Itamaraty, resposta chinesa a Eduardo foi ofensiva
O Globo: Agronegócio atua para preservar relação Brasil-China
Valor Econômico: Aliados tentam convencer presidente sobre pool com Huawei