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In Brazil, vaccination began amid political confrontation

For a while, we thought it would never start: after weeks of hesitation and questions, a vaccination campaign did indeed begin on January 17 in Brazil, the second global focus of the Covid-19 pandemic. That Sunday, instead of watching the usual football matches, the Brazilians have their eyes riveted on Brasilia and the very austere meeting of the National Health Vigilance Authority (Anvisa), broadcast live on television. After long debates, it finally approved the emergency use of Chinese vaccines, CoronaVac, and British, Oxford / AstraZeneca.

The first injection of CoronaVac takes place a few minutes later, in Sao Paulo. The lucky winner is Monica Calazans, a 54-year-old black nurse, diabetic, suffering from hypertension, instantly became the face of the fight against Covid-19 in Brazil. ” Do not be afraid ! This is our chance to save lives ”, she launches then, in tears, adding: “Let’s all get vaccinated!” “ The ceremony, very symbolic, took place under the watchful eye of the cameras and in the presence of the Governor of Sao Paulo, Joao Doria.

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In Brazil, CoronaVac is in fact produced by the Butantan Institute (the equivalent of the Pasteur Institute, placed under the supervision of the local government), which has established a partnership with the Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac. “Today is the day of the fifth: the day of the vaccine, of the truth, of victory and of life”, launched, enthusiastically, Mr. Doria, hailing a battle won against the “Deniers”.

A severe slap for Bolsonaro

First targets: Jair Bolsonaro and his government, unable for months to organize any credible vaccination plan or ensure the manufacture and distribution of vaccine. The far-right president, “anti-vaccine” assumed, did not have enough harsh words to torpedo the CoronaVac, which he said would lead to “Death, invalidity and anomaly”. “Nothing is scientifically proven with this vaccine. Nothing could conclude that the vaccine was perfectly effective “, reaffirmed the president on Friday 22 January.

For the president, the ceremony in Sao Paulo is therefore a severe slap. Mr. Bolsonaro indeed sees one of his main opponents on the right for the presidential election of 2022 metamorphose into “king of the vaccine”, even into “savior” of Brazil. The CoronaVac was indeed until Friday the only vaccine available in the country, 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine (developed with the University of Oxford) pre-ordered having been blocked for more than a week at their production site. in India, officially for bureaucratic reasons.

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