The Planalto’s truce was short-lived after the September 7 coup attacks, when Jair Bolsonaro was forced to contain robberies against the Supreme Court. Cornered, the president set the government’s artillery on the vaccination of teenagers against Covid-19, which was taking off.
Marcelo Queiroga, a doctor who had been fixing something of General Eduardo Pazuello’s damage to Health, was subjected to so much. By contradicting specialists inside and outside the ministry, the directive of no longer recommending the immunization of young people fueled rumors of the risk of serious adverse effects .
Queiroga was even more wrong: he cited a case of death in an adolescent in São Paulo that is under investigation, and it is not possible to say that it is related to an immunizing agent. Minister and Bolsonaro thus re-edit a vile moment of the Presidency in the pandemic, when he exploited a suicide —again, a man from São Paulo— to discredit the Butantan Institute vaccine.
The effect of Queiroga’s new raid with governors and mayors was to stop the vaccination of young people in at least seven capitals. Even if some precipitation is admitted when inoculating this cohort before advancing with full immunization (less than 40% of Brazilians), the turnaround reinforces the distrust of sectors of the population with the best instrument against Covid.
In parallel, the lack of coordination among Federation entities in dealing with the pandemic is deepened. The ministry, which was supposed to orchestrate the reaction to the new coronavirus, is once again seen not as a technical agent, but as a political actor submissive to Bolsonaro’s ignorant follies.
A government that changes ministers three times in the midst of such a health emergency demonstrates that it has other priorities above health. Continuity solutions accumulate and result in serious logistical failures, as seen in the recent shortage of doses and the expired expiration dates of drugs worth R$240 million.
It is not ruled out that the incompetence in the distribution of vaccines is another hidden reason for the dispute opened by the minister. Queiroga is interested in stigmatizing as a political trophy the boldness of mayors and governors who managed to accelerate vaccination despite the ineffectiveness of the Planalto.
The physician should pay attention to the experience of his predecessor. Flattering the president and accepting his excesses in public health matters, he enters a slippery slope where reputation is sacrificed for nothing.