Head of Brazil’s pharmaceutical regulator calls on Bolsonaro to apologize

The head of Brazil’s National Agency for Sanitary Surveillance (Anvisa), Antonio Barra Torres, invited President Jair Bolsonaro to apologize for attacking the pharmaceutical regulator and its staff in connection with the approval of the coronavirus vaccine for children. This was revealed on Saturday, January 8, from Torres’ speech.

Earlier, the head of Brazil had suggested that Anvisa’s actions could have been motivated by self-interest. According to him, if the agency’s employees really cared about the lives and health of citizens, they would care about other diseases in the country, but that is not the case.

In response, Torres suggested that the president contact law enforcement if he became suspicious of corruption.

“Order an immediate police investigation of me or any Anvisa employee that I am proud and honored to work for. If you have no such information or instructions, do so with the grandeur of your position and for the sake of God, whom you so often mention, retract your words,” summarized the head of the agency.

On December 16, Anvisa approved the use of the U.S. company Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for children in the 5 to 11 age group.

Bolsonaro reacted sharply to the pharmaceutical regulator’s approval of Comirnaty.

The head of state noted that he had nothing to do with the decision. The politician added that he does not intend to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and relies on natural immunity acquired through infection (he suffered an infection in July 2020). He also said he does not intend to vaccinate his youngest daughter, 11, against the coronavirus.

Brazil has consistently been among the top five countries with the highest number of detected coronavirus cases, according to the international statistical office Worldometr. During the pandemic, 22,499,525 cases were confirmed in the country. The disease has resulted in 619,981 deaths.

On Oct. 26, the Brazilian Federal Senate Commission of Inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic approved a final report accusing the president of nine crimes. Specifically, Bolsonaro, who almost never appeared in public wearing a protective mask, regularly communicated with supporters and participated in mass events, was charged with violating sanitary precautions, inciting crimes and contributing to the spread of an epidemic that caused the death of more than 600,000 people in Brazil. In addition, for actively promoting the use of drugs of unproven efficacy for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, as well as for being skeptical about vaccination against coronavirus infection, he was accused of quackery and violation of budget spending.

Parliamentarians also felt that the president had violated the constitutional rights of citizens and that his behavior was not consistent with his position. Under Brazilian law, such violations could be grounds for impeachment proceedings.

Bolsonaro himself did not plead guilty.