President Jair Bolsonaro dismissed social distancing measures just as Brazil recorded more than 9 million cases of COVID-19, suggesting that the population will need to learn how to live with the virus.
“This issue of COVID will continue for life,” he said at his weekly live webcast on social media, adding that local authorities’ efforts to reimpose restrictive measures will “lead nowhere.”
Brazil has been struggling to import and produce enough vaccines to protect its population of 210 million, with less than 1.5 million doses administered so far. The slow inoculation campaign is weighing on the country’s economic prospects as a second wave of the virus strains the public health system, forcing authorities to reimpose restrictions on commerce and mobility.
With the rise in virus cases, calls for another round of cash handouts to poor Brazilians have been growing, leading the Economy Ministry to start working on alternatives to finance the additional spending.
Bolsonaro repeated, however, that the government’s ability to take on debt to provide more emergency payments “has reached its limit.”
When it comes to vaccines, the Brazilian president, a longtime China skeptic, thanked Beijing earlier this week for approving Sinovac Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine for export.
A slow rollout has also pressured Bolsonaro’s popularity, with the country only receiving two million doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines.
At this point, who knows how long the virus will be sticking around, but in Bolsonaro’s defense, there’s mounting evidence that continues to how mandatory stay-at-home orders issued by the government don’t work.
However, maybe Bolsonaro is right by telling his fellow compatriots to go out there and live their lives. After all, a total implosion of the. Brazilian economy wouldn’t exactly be great for the people’s health.