Hundreds of Brazilian business leaders and economists have exploded President Jair Bolsonaro’s Handling the coronavirus crisis on Monday and called for a new political approach as the country enters a critical phase in its COVID-19 outbreak.
The letter, published in newspapers and signed by former central bank chiefs and some of Brazil’s wealthiest bankers, highlighted a growing revolt by business leaders against the far-right president many supported for his election. from 2018.
Without naming Bolsonaro, they berated “the country’s top political leadership” for ignoring science, encouraging crowds, exaggerating unproven treatments and “flirting with anti-vaccine movement“.
The presidential press office did not respond to a request for comment.
Bolsonaro said on Monday he had yet to be convinced to change his long-standing stance against the lockdown measures.
Speaking at an event in Brasilia, Bolsonaro said the locks were only used make the poor poorer, and he refused to moderate his stance against stay-at-home measures that he said were killing jobs. He added that Brazil should focus on destroying the virus, not attacking its government.
A flare-up of infections has made Brazil the last epicenter of the pandemic, with the virus killing more than 15,000 people last week and pushing hospitals across the country to the limit.
The country has so far reported more than 11.9 million COVID-19 cases and more than 294,000 coronavirus-related deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University – just behind the United States.
The Brazilian government is rushing to secure new supplies of drugs needed to safely intubate patients, Jarbas Barbosa, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization, said on Monday after fears of shortages arose this month. this.
It also struggles to obtain and distribute COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate its population. On Saturday, the government said it was in discussions with the United States to obtain excess vaccine doses.
Bolsonaro also last week appointed a new Minister of Health – the fourth since the start of the pandemic – as he said Brazil was entering a “more aggressive” phase in its fight against the virus.
“We are on the verge of an explosive pandemic phase, and it is fundamental that from now on, public policies are based on data, solid information and scientific evidence, ”wrote business leaders and economists.
“The country is tired of misplaced ideas, irrelevant words and late or wrong actions,” they said. “Brazil demands respect.”
Among the signatories were Roberto Setubal and Pedro Moreira Salles, whose families control Itau, Brazil’s largest bank; Pedro Passos, co-founder of cosmetics maker Natura & Co, and former central bank presidents Gustavo Loyola and Arminio Fraga.
In a plank against the government, they called for greater urgency in vaccine supply, free masks for the needy, better federal coordination on the pandemic and consideration of a national or regional lockdown strategy.
The message of these eminent economists and bankers Bolsonaro’s fundamental policy argument that he has defended jobs by opposing lockdowns, which the letter describes as “a false choice between saving lives and providing support to the most vulnerable.”
“It is not reasonable to expect a economic recovery into an uncontrollable epidemic, ”they wrote.
Meanwhile, the Sao Paulo state government said it had obtained guarantees from oxygen suppliers that they would be able to maintain supplies to public hospitals, and announced that brewer AmBev would produce also gas in one of its state plants.