SAO PAULO – Brazilian Marketing Director Eduardo Menga is particularly careful when it comes to his health. During the pandemic, he consulted a number of doctors to make sure he was in good shape and uprooted his family from Rio de Janeiro to a quiet rural town where he works remotely. His wife, Bianca Rinaldi, an actress, hasn’t worked since March.
Menga and Rinaldi are among a minority of Brazilians who will pay for a COVID-19 vaccine if an association of private clinics can contract to get 5 million shots Latin America’s Most Unequal Country. President Jair Bolsonaro, who is under fire for his government’s handling of the pandemic, has vowed not to interfere.
“When I go to a restaurant and pay for my own food, I don’t take someone else’s food,” said 68-year-old Menga from his home in Jundiai, Sao Paulo state. “I don’t think a vaccine from a private clinic is taken by someone else waiting in the public system. It could be an alternate line and those who get the chance should take it.”
Amid the government’s stumbling vaccine rollout, many Brazilian funders are looking to find a quick route to vaccination, creating backlash among some public health experts and fueling debate on social media, editorial pages and talk shows.
There have been concerns around the world that the privileged might play the system to get vaccinated in front of others. If the Affiliates were caught skipping in countries like Turkey, Morocco and Spain, they did it Exposed to criticism, Investigations or forced resignations.
Brazil has had reports of line jumpers as well, but what makes the nation stand out is that maneuvers aren’t all done in the shade. Some are open with the successful coordination efforts the government is backing, according to Roberto DaMatta, emeritus professor of anthropology at Notre Dame University.
“The pandemic is making Brazil’s inequality more apparent because the virus doesn’t choose social class, it chooses the cure,” said DaMatta, who wrote the book “Do you know who you are talking to?” a portrait of Brazilian privilege. It was inspired by episodes during the pandemic, including a judge who disobeyed a police officer’s order to put on a mask, then called the state security chief to protest and tore up his 100 reais ($ 20) fine.
“Brazil’s prosperous normalized slavery for ages. Now they accept that more poor and black people are dying from COVID and are putting little pressure on a government that has sabotaged the rollout. How to take the vaccine in this scenario may be organization dependent , hence the wealthy organize, “DaMatta told The Associated Press.
Business leaders and some authorities defend attempts to secure a vaccine to fuel Brazil’s economic restart. Anyway, they argue, why shouldn’t the well-heeled buy vaccines when government efforts are falling short? To date, there are 13.9 million shots available in Brazil for a population of 210 million, and since vaccinations began on January 18, only 1% of citizens have received the first of two shots.
For their part, health experts see such efforts as unethical, as vaccines are rare worldwide and risk groups urgently need to avoid death. Almost 230,000 Brazilians have died of COVID-19, the second highest number in the world.
And while people over 65 like Menga top the list, the slow rollout in Brazil, which can take up to 16 months, means it can be a long time to get a shot, and even longer for his wife, 46 Years old.
The debate over unfair vaccine distribution in Brazil first emerged after Supreme Court officials reportedly tried to provide around 7,000 COVID-19 vaccines for themselves and their families. The government lab that will make and distribute AstraZeneca recordings declined, saying it could not reserve recordings. In addition to health professionals, the Sao Paulo prosecutors advocate inclusion in priority groups.
After those efforts failed, Brazil’s private health clinics tried to bypass public procurement plans. Executives of the Brazilian Association of Private Clinics negotiated directly with the Indian pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech about the COVAXIN shot. The association of around 30,000 private clinics registers potential customers on a waiting list.
Brazil has not signed any contracts with Bharat and its health agency has not yet approved COVAXIN. As a sign of what the future might look like once the contract is signed, the Rio Grande do Sul State Judges’ Association asked its members last month if they would be interested in buying footage from the clinic association.
Gonzalo Vecina, who headed the Brazilian health department between 1999 and 2003, says such private sector efforts are a major public health concern, not just for ethical and legal reasons.
“The private network doesn’t have to follow the Department of Health’s priority protocol. If this continues, we’ll have one line for people with $ 200 that you get a chance next week and another that won’t move for months,” said Vecina.
“Everyone needs to understand that the pandemic won’t end if it doesn’t end for everyone.”
Most of the world relies on public health networks for vaccine delivery, and few countries with large populations use private distribution channels. A notable exception is the United States, where Americans can take photos in pharmacies, clinics, and other private facilities. Hospitals in at least eight states were accused of preferential treatment Board members, trustees, relatives, and donors who should have waited their turn.
On Jan. 26, Bolsonaro said he signed a letter to support an offer by a group of Brazilian executives to receive 33 million doses of the AstraZeneca shot, half of which were used ad libitum and half to the country’s public health system should be donated.
Brazilian media reported that there were at least 11 companies in the group, including the state-owned oil company Petrobras, steel maker Gerdau and telephone operator Oi, all of which refused to comment.
“That would help the economy a lot, and also those who want to be vaccinated,” said Bolsonaro of the companies’ efforts. Economy Minister Paulo Guedes described the efforts as “obviously very good”.
In contrast, a council of business leaders in neighboring Colombia encountered a roadblock when asking permission to buy COVID-19 shots. The Colombian Health Minister said the possibility would not be considered until the second stage of vaccination, after all health professionals and people over 60 years of age have received their shots.
Regardless of Bolsonaro’s support, AstraZeneca rejected the efforts of Brazilian executives, saying in a statement that it would not serve the Brazilian private sector, at least for the time being. The Sao Paulo industry association issued a statement two days later denying that such negotiations ever continued.
A former Brazilian central bank governor Armínio Fraga said he opposed moves by wealthier Brazilians and feared vaccine prices could rise if companies are allowed to bid on them.
“We live in a moment of global scarcity,” said Fraga, a partner at investment firm Gavea Investimentos, in an online interview with Valor newspaper. “We need a certain coordination so that the priority groups are respected.”