April 23, 2021
1. Bolsonaro changes tone at climate summit, asks for financial help
During his participation in the Leaders’ Summit on Climate, President Jair Bolsonaro promised once again that Brazil will adopt measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The content of Bolsonaro’s speech was similar to the letter he sent to U.S. President Joe Biden last week – indicating a commitment to reach climate neutrality by 2050, end illegal deforestation by 2030 and strengthen institutions that monitor environmental initiatives. Bolsonaro asked for “fair compensation for environmental services” provided by Brazilian biomes, but did not ask for financing in advance, as he had in the letter.
The speech was seen as “positive” and “constructive” by the U.S. government. The U.S. State Department, however, stated that the credibility of the Brazilian President’s promises will depend on “solid plans.” According to Brazilian experts, Bolsonaro’s speech was full of empty promises. They say the president discussed already-established climate goals, mentioned incorrect data about conservation of the Amazon and did not present any concrete measures for ending illegal deforestation, among other issues. They added that in 2021, the Ministry of Environment will have its lowest budget over the last 21 years.
O Globo: Presidente muda o tom na Cúpula sobre o Clima
Folha de S.Paulo: Confira a íntegra contextualizada do discurso
O Globo: Especialistas dizem que foram “promessas vazias”
Folha de S.Paulo: EUA dizem que Bolsonaro foi “construtivo”
G1: Leia mais notícias sobre a Cúpula
2. Federal tax revenue in March reaches record high, increases 18.49%
In March, federal tax revenue reached its highest level since 1995, when the Federal Revenue Department began to record it. March’s statistics revealed an 18.49% increase in comparison to the same month in 2020. Total revenue in March stood at R$ 137.9 billion (USD $25.05 billion). The total amount collected through taxes in the first quarter of the year was R$ 445.9 billion (USD $80.99 billion) – a 5.64% increase compared to the first quarter of 2020. Without correcting for inflation, revenue increased 25.72%.
Economy Minister Paulo Guedes celebrated the results, stating that increased revenue in March and the first quarter reveals that economic activities are once again recovering. He also said that the second wave of COVID-19 could have impacted activity levels. “Economic activity indices were well above expectations, showing levels of recovery in every sector. Combined with improvements in formal employment indices, this data shows that Brazil has risen. It had fallen due to the pandemic, but it has recovered,” said Guedes. According to the minister, the vaccination campaign needs to be sped up so that people can safely return to work.
3. COVID inquiry committee will target errors in strategy and vaccination delays
The Parliamentary Inquiry Committee (CPI) that will investigate the handling of the pandemic by President Jair Bolsonaro – as well as by mayors and governors – will begin work on Tuesday. According to Senator Renan Calheiros (DEM), who will likely lead the investigation, there are many questions to be answered: “The CPI’s first goal will be to investigate whether there was an attempt to develop herd immunity. If the administration did not act and if this caused the situation to be aggravated. In other words: had the government worked properly, how many lives could have been saved?”
Senators who claim to be independent from both the administration and the opposition agreed to nominate Omar Aziz (PSD) as the CPI president. He could then, in turn, nominate Calheiros to lead the investigation. President Jair Bolsonaro, who opposes to the investigation, said to Calheiros’ son – Governor Renan Filho (Alagoas) – that he plans to talk to Calheiros about the investigation. In an interview, Calheiros said that the CPI will focus on government inaction and misuse of public funds. When asked about summoning the former Minister of Health Eduardo Pazuello to speak, he said: “Brazil saw it. It was a terrible performance. I don’t want to predict what will happen.”
4. With only a third of people in priority groups vaccinated, immunization goal postponed again
So far, only one-third of people from priority vaccination groups have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Only 28 million of a total group of 78 million people. Since the vaccination campaign began, the priority has been to vaccinate the elderly, patients with chronic illnesses, indigenous and Quilombolas communities as well as health, safety and education professionals.
The pace of vaccination in Brazil relies on receiving foreign ingredients to manufacture the vaccine or the importation of completed vaccines. This week, Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga recognized that there is a delay and postponed the goal of fully vaccinating priority groups from May to September. “The schedule depends on deliveries. The COVAX Facility has not delivered what we agreed on. There is a need for ingredients and it is not a Brazilian issue – it is a worldwide issue,” he said. The country is approaching 400,000 deaths from the coronavirus and 14 million people have been contaminated.
Folha de S.Paulo: Ministro adia meta de imunização de prioritários
Valor Econômico: Atraso na vacinação preocupa médicos
G1: Leia mais notícias sobre a pandemia
Our World in Data: Acompanhe a vacinação no Brasil e no mundo
5. Administration authorizes use of coronavirus cocktail for hospitalized patients
The federal government has authorized the use of the REGN-COV2 cocktail to treat coronavirus patients in hospitals. The cocktail – which uses lab-manufactured antibodies to avoid worsening symptoms of the disease in people over 65 years of age or in high-risk groups – will not be sold. The drug is already in use in the U.S., Canada and Switzerland, with the European Union also authorizing its use in emergencies.
According to experts, the authorization to use the cocktail in Brazil is good news, but the cost of the medication could be an obstacle for its use in the public health system. The experts believe that the treatment will not be available for less than USD $15,000. According to the Ministry of Health, there is no estimate on when the drug will be available in Brazil or how much it will cost. The National Agency of Supplemental Health (ANS) said that the cocktail will have to be covered by health insurance following medical recommendation for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
O Estado de S.Paulo: Uso de novo coquetel contra Covid-19 é liberado
Valor Econômico: ‘Não sei quando vai chegar’, diz ministro da Saúde