October 23, 2020


1. Bolsonaro cancels deal to purchase Chinese vaccine

One day after the Health Minister announced that the federal government would purchase 46 million doses of the Chinese coronavirus vaccine – CoronaVac – President Jair Bolsonaro cancelled the deal. The vaccine is being tested by the Chinese lab Sinovac and by Instituto Butantan, operated by the São Paulo state government. The governor of São Paulo, João Doria, is slated to run against Bolsonaro in the 2022 presidential elections. The president stated that “any vaccine, before being offered, must be scientifically approved and certified.” adding: “the Brazilian people will be nobody’s guinea pig.” A study published this week in Nature magazine shows that Brazil has the second highest approval rating for the coronavirus vaccine (85.3%) internationally, behind only China (88.6%).

State governors and health authorities criticized the president’s decision. In September, Doria had celebrated the purchase of 46 million doses of the vaccine for USD $90 million. The doses were going to be used in the state of São Paulo, but the governor was hoping to receive the federal government’s support to buy additional doses. “It is criminal to deny the vaccine to anyone,” the governor proclaimed. CoronaVac is currently in the most advanced stages of clinical trials and data regarding its effectiveness will be released in December. The federal government’s purchase of vaccines for a national immunization campaign had been predicted to cost R$ 1.9 billion (USD $338.17 million). Brazil has recorded over 155,000 deaths and 5.3 million cases resulting from the virus.

O Estado de S. Paulo: Bolsonaro rejeita compra de vacina chinesa contra Covid
Folha de S.Paulo: Negar vacina é criminoso, afirma Doria
UOL: Apoio à vacina no Brasil é o segundo maior no mundo
O Globo: Acompanhe notícias sobre a pandemia
IRRD Covid-19: Veja o mapeamento de casos no Brasil e no mundo

2. In large cities, poor people lost 32.1% of their income while the rich lost 3.2%

A study published this week reveals that the poorest in Brazil had the largest drop in income compared to rich Brazilians during the pandemic. The research “Inequality in Metropolis” does not include the emergency aid that will be distributed until the end of the year or any other benefit programs – such as Bolsa Família, for example – resulting in a calculation of losses in individual income generated from work.

In the second quarter of 2020, when compared to the same period of the previous year, the poorest workers in 22 Brazilian cities – representing 40% of the population – lost -32.1% of their income. Among professionals with an intermediate income – representing 50% of the workforce – there was a -5.6% loss in revenue, while the 10% of the people representing the richest in Brazil lost -3.2% of their income. In nine cities (Manaus, Belém, São Luís metropolitan region, Natal, João Pessoa, Goiânia, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba and Florianópolis) the richest actually got richer. The poorest did not see an income increase in any of the cities analyzed.

Folha de S.Paulo: Mais pobres nas metrópoles perdem 32,1% da renda

3. The pandemic and unusual campaigns are threatening the election, say specialists

An election in which campaigning was delayed, as well as the new normal resulting from the pandemic may negatively impact the electoral participation of Brazilians. Voting will take place on November 15th. According to political scientists and researchers, there is an increased risk of abstentions. A Datafolha poll conducted at the beginning of the month shows that 21% of voters in São Paulo are not planning to vote out of fear of contracting the coronavirus.

The lack of large crowds at campaign rallies for mayoral and local representative candidates along with the lack of in-person meetings with voters in large cities have made the election less engaging, according to political scientist Antonio Lavareda. Another issue caused by the pandemic is that elderly voters and people among high risk groups are giving up on voting, despite the health protocols being enforced by the electoral judiciary. “This has happened in countries that have held elections during the pandemic,” says Lorena Barberia, a professor of Political Science at the University of São Paulo.

Folha de S.Paulo: Medo de pandemia pode aumentar abstenção
Folha de S.Paulo: Saúde é tema político mais buscado na internet

4. U.S. partners with Brazil against Chinese 5G

A committee from the U.S. government has offered Brazil USD $1 billion for investments in telecommunications. President Jair Bolsonaro took part in the signing ceremony for the deal, reinforcing the support the Brazilian president has shown for his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump. The Trump administration has been pressuring Brazil to veto equipment for 5G internet infrastructure manufactured in China and instead promote the replacement of components already in use in 4G structures, due to claims that there is a risk of espionage.

An auction for 5G operations planned for next year has attracted the interest of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, which is already operating in Brazil. The Chinese Embassy in Brazil published an open letter accusing the U.S. of “lying and cheating,” reiterating that China is focused on cooperation and that it has “never interfered in domestic matters or foreign policies of other countries.” Currently, Huawei and Ericsson control nearly 40% of the Brazilian telecommunications market, while Nokia controls 20%.

Valor Econômico: EUA oferecem US$ 1 bilhão para brecar 5G chinês
Folha de S.Paulo: China se diz alvo de “mentiras e trapaças”
O Globo: Como fica o Brasil na guerra EUA x China?

5. Brazil registers worst economic performance among BRICS countries in the past 20 years

Brazil had the worst economic performance of BRICS countries over the last 20 years. A study by Goldman Sachs analyzing the predicted growth of the countries in 20 years, beginning 2000 had China as the leader in growth, followed by India and Russia. If estimates were correct, Brazil would have grown 101.7% in the past two decades. However, the country will have grown by only 43.6% at the end of the year based on the recession estimated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Russia also performed below the predicted levels (78.4% growth compared to the estimate of 127.3%).

According to analysts, Brazil had a steep drop in growth from 2014. Some analysts believe the drop was caused by policies created during the PT administrations, while others think the decline was a consequence of the fiscal austerity theory. Russia, second to last in the ranking (South Africa was not included in the original study published in 2003), was also affected in 2014, but couldn’t recover its growth due to other reasons such as low oil prices, lack of reforms and an increase in poverty. China and India, on the other hand, bested expectations by growing 425.4% instead of 249.3% and 229.8% instead of the predicted 206.1% respectively.

Valor Econômico: Brasil é o pior dos Brics em 20 anos