Saturday, January 22, 2022

Brazil president accused of ‘fascist’ threats over Covid shots

Officials say they have received death threats for their role in evaluating and approving Covid-19 vaccines.

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Employees at Brazil’s federal health regulator accused President Jair Bolsonaro Friday of making “fascist” threats, after the far-right leader said he wanted the names revealed of those who approved Covid-19 vaccines for children.

The latest row over Bolsonaro’s controversial pandemic response erupted after health regulator Anvisa approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Thursday for use in children aged five to 11, joining a growing list of countries extending vaccination to kids.

Reacting to the announcement in his weekly Facebook live address to supporters, Bolsonaro said he wanted the names of those at the independent agency who made the decision.

“We want to publish those people’s names,” said the former army captain, who has refused to be vaccinated himself.

“You have the right to know the names of the people who approved the vaccine for your children.”

An association representing employees of the health regulator, Univisa, said that amounted to a threat, at a time when Anvisa officials say they have received death threats for their role in evaluating and approving Covid-19 vaccines.

“Publishing the names of those involved in the technical analysis can have no benefit in a democracy,” it said in a statement.

“It looks instead like a threat of retaliation that resorts to inciting private citizens, an openly fascist method whose results could prove tragic and violent.”

It added that such threats “are all the more grave when they come from the very authorities who are supposed to ensure peace, public health and lawful compliance with the state’s decisions.”

Bolsonaro has repeatedly provoked controversy with his handling of the pandemic, from downplaying the virus as a “little flu” to flouting experts’ recommendations on stay-at-home measures, face masks and vaccines.

A Senate investigative committee recommended in October he face criminal charges, including crimes against humanity, for his government’s response to Covid-19, which has claimed more than 615,000 lives in Brazil, second only to the US.

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