Thousands of Brazilians went to the city streets in various states across the country to protest against President Jair Bolsonaro as the country crossed 500,000 COVID deaths.
By Saturday, Brazil had registered 500,800 COVID deaths, against 17,883,750 confirmed cases, the worst death toll after the United States. On average, Brazil has reported 2,000 deaths daily for the past one week, according to the country’s Health Ministry.
The former Head of Anvisa, Brazillian health regulator, Gonzalo Vecina, sent out an ominous warning amidst vaccine challenges.
“I think we could reach 700,000 or 800,000 COVID deaths before we can see the effects of the vaccine,” he told Reuters, “These new variants and the emergence of the Indian variant (Delta variant) will send us in a loop.”
Indeed, the rapid spread has been led by new, more transmissible variants in the South American region. This includes the Gamma, which had first been discovered in the region.
On Saturday, June 19, protesters took to the streets to criticize Bolsonaro’s messed-up response to the pandemic.
The protesters were critical of the government’s delay in getting vaccines. They also criticized Bolsonaro for questioning public health guidelines meant to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“He took too long to get the vaccine,” one demonstrator, Denise Azevedo, told Reuters, “Herd immunity won’t work now. Our only immunity is to get the vaccine.”
“The government is worse than the virus.”
Thousands take to the Brazil's streets to protest President Jair Bolsonaro’s pandemic response as the country passes 500,000 COVID deaths ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/yyWckv5wD4
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) June 20, 2021
The protestors have been calling for Bolsonaro to resign, terming his government as more dangerous than the virus. They blame the recent surge of deaths on his government, with Bolsonaro’s administration having passed up the opportunity to buy the Pfizer vaccine early.
The protests have so far been in 44 cities spread across 20 states.
As of June 20, Brazil had fully vaccinated only about 15 per cent of its population, which is a small percentage of the over 200 million people in the country. For those who have gotten their first dosage, the figure rises slightly to 29 percent.