It was not until April 12, 2021, more than a year after the start of the pandemic, that Itamaraty created a task force to “step up efforts to obtain vaccines, tests, drugs and supplies.” against Covid-19, according to a diplomatic telegram obtained. by Folha.
During the administration of ex-chancellor Ernesto Araújo, there was no coordination, structure or working group dedicated to dealing with the pandemic of the new coronavirus.
According to members of the ministry, possible research actions for drugs, supplies or vaccines have been carried out “ad hoc”, depending on the requests that have arisen.
In his testimony on the Covid CPI on Tuesday (18), Ernesto indicated that President Jair Bolsonaro had instructed the Foreign Ministry to make possible the purchase of chloroquine, a drug with no proven efficacy against Covid-19, but no did not give specific instructions to the ministry to negotiate vaccines against the disease.
He said he never received advice from the president to speed up contacts with vaccine suppliers.
In return, the Foreign Ministry sent numerous telegrams to India from March in an attempt to secure the import of chloroquine. And he continued to call the diplomatic corps, by telegram in June, to guarantee the supply of hydroxychloroquine, even after medical companies had already advised against its use and reported serious side effects.
The diplomatic cable on the “working group for health diplomacy”, created by Chancellor Carlos França, indicates that, in the critical phase of the pandemic, “the main objective of Brazilian diplomacy must be to seek to receive , as quickly as possible, the doses of vaccines and IFA provided for in the contracts already established ”.
In addition, the working group is expected to identify “additional options for obtaining vaccines and drugs”.
Today, 85% of the Covid vaccines given in Brazil are Coronavac, and the country is highly vulnerable to delays in shipping supplies for the Sinovac vaccine and the AstraZeneca vaccine, the second most used.
According to sources, there is no specific budget for the group, but there is coordination of people who were in charge of finding vaccines and supplies, which did not previously exist in the ministry.
The group has a room at Itamaraty with videoconferencing equipment to allow direct contact with posts abroad and with other agencies such as Casa Civil, the Ministry of Health and Anvisa.
Wanted, the Foreign Ministry did not comment until the report was concluded.