The Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, swore in General Eduardo Pazuello as Minister of Health, a position he held temporarily since last May, with a renewed defense of chloroquine to treat the coronavirus.
After four months, the hardest of the pandemic, which already leaves almost 134,000 deaths in the country, Brazil once again had an effective head in the Health portfolio, for which since last February, when the first Brazilian case of COVID-19, two other headlines had passed.
Bolsonaro, who contracted the virus in July and has recovered, made a renewed ceremony at the minister’s inauguration defense of hydroxychloroquine, a controversial antimalarial it blindly relies on to treat coronavirus but whose effectiveness has not been fully proven by science.
“There are studies that show that up to 30% of deaths could be avoided with the early use of chloroquine, “insisted Bolsonaro, without citing the sources of those investigations.
Your vision of the pandemic
He also reiterated his criticism of quarantines and other isolation measures imposed by governors and mayors within the framework of their constitutional powers, and he assured that “it could have been done differently.”
But at that point, the discharge was also against the media, which is always in the spotlight. “I understand that some governors were taken by the panic spread by that catastrophic press we have, “he declared.
In the same way, he condemned the closure of trade in the hardest times of the pandemic and, more emphatically, he protested that most of the country’s schools and universities continue not to function in person.
He alleged that according to “many studies”, children and young people are less likely to contract the virus and assured that “there was no reason to close schools,” as governors and mayors did six months ago. “I’m sorry, but we are the country with the highest number of days with schools closed and that’s absurd“, he emphasized.
A disaster in Brazil
When Pazuello took office on an interim basis, on May 15, Brazil had 14,817 deaths from coronavirus and the number of confirmed cases amounted to 218,223. Four months later, the deceased approach 134,000 and infections close to 4.4 million.
Pazuello was appointed Vice Minister of Health in April, but a few weeks later he was in charge of the office, after the resignation of the oncologist Nelson Teich, who barely endured a month in the position in which he had replaced the doctor Luiz Henrique Mandetta.
The latter was fired for defending quarantines and isolation measures that Bolsonaro censured, while Teich resigned dissatisfied with the president’s insistence that COVID-19 patients be treated with the antimalarial chloroquine.
“There were two successive transitions” at a “critical moment of the pandemic,” said the general on Wednesday, who affirmed that the emergency will only be overcome when “there is a vaccine“and stressed that some of the most advanced are experienced in Brazil.
Pazuello, with a lot of experience in logistics and none in health, initially assumed the office on an interim basis and dragged that status until now, when he has finally been officially appointed minister.
One of the first steps he took, just a week after beginning his interim duties, was to release the chloroquine treatment into the public health, despite the doubts that the drug still raises in the scientific community.
Pazuello did not say so, but in political circles that decision was interpreted as an attitude typical of the military and the codes of law. “due obedience” and in this case to Bolsonaro, a captain of the Army reserve who in his capacity as president acts as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces.
General Pazuello was also the object of criticism when last June, and also on Bolsonaro’s orders, he began to disclose only the daily virus figures and omit the accumulated, which was later corrected by a judicial decision.
First as an interim and now as an effective minister, Pazuello plays a military career de luster, which led him to be the logistics coordinator for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games and head of the operation that welcomed the thousands of Venezuelans who fled their country to Brazil in the last three years.