His citizens have been killed by a Covid-19 epidemic that he once dismissed as little flu. But Brazil's science-denying president Jair Bolsonaro has said he will not be vaccinated because it doesn't make sense.
I have decided to not get the vaccine," the 66-year old populist said to a right-wing radio station Tuesday. I've been studying new studies. Why should I get vaccinated. His antibody levels were already high due to a previous infection. This would be equivalent to betting 10 reais (1.30), on the lottery to win 2. It is absurd. Bolsonaro stated that he wasn't anti-vaccination but opposed what he called vaccine-buying frenzy.
His comments came days after Brazil's Covid death toll surpassed 600,000. Many people were angry at him for his remarks.
This is a foolish and selfish decision. Vaccination is not about protecting oneself. Natlia Pasternak is the head of the Question of Science Institute, a civil society group.
Pasternak stated that Bolsonaros' claim that his high antibodies rendered vaccination unnecessary was uninformed. It is not possible to determine whether someone is protected by antibodies in their blood. Because antibodies are affected by virus exposure, they can fluctuate in levels so measuring them regularly isn't enough to tell you if your immune system is working.
Pasternak, a Columbia University visiting scholar, said: It is only if there are sufficient cellular responses and memory cells that you can determine if you are protected. You cannot measure this using an antibody test.
A recent UK study found that a previous infection does not always protect against Covid over the long-term, especially when it is caused by new forms of concern.
President Jair Bolsonaro - Why should I get vaccinated? Photograph by Jodson Alves/EPA
Brazil's transmission rate fell to 0.6 this week, its lowest level since April 2020. Experts believe that this achievement is due in large part to the impressive mass vaccination campaign launched by the South American nation's NHS-inspired public healthcare system.
Over 72% of Brazilians (154 million) have had at least one shot, and 47% have been fully immunized. Bolsonaro claims he has not been given one of the 253 million doses despite being eligible since April.
Pasternak was skeptical that Bolsonaros' behavior would have an impact on the way Brazilians embrace Covid vaccines. She said that Brazilians are very pro-vaccine. This is due to 30-40 years of an active national immunisation program, which left Brazilians feeling very secure and supportive of vaccination.
Bolsonaro's actions could lead to anti-vaccine sentiment. Brazil could end up in the same position as France or the USA 20 years ago when an anti-vax movement was started. This has led to America being in the absurd situation of having too many vaccines and yet seeing those who refuse to get vaccinated to die.
She said, "We should not take it lightly." It is important to consider the potential impact on our society in 10 years. This statement by the president opens the doors for the anti-vax movement in Brazil to flourish.