February 12, 2021
1. Vaccine shortage could complicate government vaccination goals
The vaccination plan for the Brazilian population will be affected by the shortage of doses in the market. While international demand for the vaccines grows daily, the Brazilian federal government is facing difficulties supplying vaccines to states and municipalities, who are responsible for distributing and administering the doses.
This week, Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello promised that everyone will receive the vaccine by the end of 2021. According to the Ministry of Health, the race for ingredients makes it harder to buy vaccines on the global market. However, congressional opposition and many opinion leaders blame President Jair Bolsonaro, saying that he did not want to buy doses in advance and promoted instead a “preventative treatment,” a combination of drugs such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. So far, 4.5 million Brazilians have been vaccinated, representing 2.16% of the total population.
UOL: Primeira fase vacina 4,5 milhões de pessoas, 2,16% da população
Folha de S. Paulo: Com vacinas em falta, Pazuello promete imunização geral contra Covid em 2021
CNN Brasil: ‘Vacinaremos 100% da população até dezembro’, diz Pazuello a senadores
2. Chamber of Deputies approves Central Bank autonomy
On Wednesday, the Chamber of Deputies approved a complementary bill giving autonomy to the Central Bank. The project resulted from a deal between party leaders and was the first major vote under the Chamber of Deputies presidency of Arthur Lira – an ally of President Jair Bolsonaro.
According to the approved text, the mandate of the Central Bank president will not coincide with that of the Brazilian president. According to the bill’s proponents, the goal is to protect the bank’s board of directors from political pressure on monetary policies, especially regarding inflation control and currency stability, citing Japan and the U.S. as cases with successful independent monetary authorities. The Brazilian version was approved last year in the Senate, and is now awaiting approval from President Bolsonaro.
G1: Câmara aprova projeto que prevê autonomia do Banco Central
Folha de S. Paulo: Câmara aprova projeto de autonomia do Banco Central; texto vai para sanção
Valor Econômico: Autonomia elevará credibilidade da política monetária, diz BC em nota
3. Brazilian delegation visits China to discuss 5G and COVID-19 vaccine
While visiting China to discuss 5G technology, Communications Minister Fábio Faria also discussed the COVID-19 issue. Faria said that China will send the ingredients to manufacture 13 million doses of the Oxford vaccine to Brazil. The visit to China is part a of a series of international trips aimed at gathering information on telecommunications infrastructure and suppliers, such as Huawei. These trips are taking place prior to the Brazilian 5G auction, which is slated for June.
The minister posted about the meeting on social media and faced criticism from Bolsonaro supporters. However, from a political and diplomatic point of view, the visit was positive. In an open letter published on Wednesday, Chinese Ambassador to Brazil, Yang Wanming, expressed his desire to continue strengthening Sino-Brazilian relations, especially regarding COVID-19 vaccines. In the past few days, Fábio Faria also went to Sweden to meet with representatives from Ericsson, another telecommunications company and competitor of Huawei.
O Globo: Em visita à China, Fábio Faria quebra gelo com a Huawei, é recebido sem quarentena e pede ajuda com a vacina
Poder360: China enviará ao Brasil insumos para 13 milhões de doses da vacina de Oxford
4. President Jair Bolsonaro once again considers offering emergency stimulus
The debate surrounding emergency aid – financial support for people struggling as a result of the pandemic – is far from being over. On Thursday, President Jair Bolsonaro said that a R$ 200 (USD $37.25) aid would return in March and last for at least four months.
The president’s statement displeased the financial market. The currency exchange rate dropped the value of the Brazilian real in comparison to the U.S. dollar, fearing that a few more rounds of aid would aggravate the country’s financial situation. While the economy team led by Paulo Guedes wants to avoid problems, the president fears his popularity will drop even further.
O Globo: Auxílio emergencial: Bolsonaro fala em volta em março e manda recado ao mercado: ‘Vamos deixar de ser irritadinhos’
VEJA: Paulo Guedes condiciona nova rodada do auxílio emergencial a PEC de Guerra
5. Brazil experiences two major data leaks over three weeks
Over the span of less than three weeks, two major data leaks happened in Brazil. On January 28th the press reported that the data of over 200 million Brazilians had been collected and sold on the deep web. This week, another invasion was detected.
This time, personal data from 102,828,815 Brazilians registered with phone companies were made public, including that of President Jair Bolsonaro. Among the data leaked include taxpayer registry information and phone numbers. On Thursday, the recently created National Data Protection Authority (ANPD) asked the Federal Police to investigate the matter, promising to punish the perpetrators. These leaks reveal the fragility of data storage in Brazil and represent the first major challenge to face the ANPD.