One of President Trump’s staunchest allies on the world stage, Bolsonaro has not congratulated President-elect Joe Biden on his win in the U.S. presidential election, called by the media Saturday. Bolsonaro and Trump have repeatedly dismissed and downplayed the coronavirus, which both caught and survived. They have both ridiculed public health guidance such as mask-wearing and trafficked in false statements about the pandemic.
Bolsonaro has claimed that Brazilians could jump in raw sewage and “never catch anything.” In April, in response to questions from reporters about the pandemic, he responded: “So what? I’m sorry, but what do you want me to do?” He later added: “I’m sorry for the situation we are currently living with due to the virus. We express our solidarity to those who have lost loved ones, many of whom were elderly. But that’s life, it could be me tomorrow,” CNN reported.
Brazil remains in the throes of one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks and has reported more fatalities per capita than nearly any country in the world, including the United States. Nearly 5.7 million cases have been reported to date, the third-highest total worldwide. Outside experts broadly agree that the tally of both infections and deaths in Brazil is an undercount.
On Tuesday, Bolsonaro claimed a personal “victory” after Brazil suspended trials of a vaccine being developed by the Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech, in a partnership with Sao Paulo’s state-run Butantan Institute. Bolsonaro has opposed the trial because of its links to China and support from Sao Paulo, whose governor is a political rival.
The phase-three testing was stopped after one participant faced an “adverse, serious event,” which researchers said was unrelated to the trial, the Associated Press reported. The suspension, relatively common during vaccine trials, is under review.