“Zé Gotinha” is an extremely symbolic character in Brazil during vaccination campaigns aimed at children and adults.
Charismatic and popular, since the 1980s he has helped build on the success of national campaigns promoted by the Ministry of Health, making Brazil an example to follow in mass vaccination. From then on, his absence during the vaccination against Covid-19 was felt.
Not by chance, in the first speech after he recovered his political rights – with the cancellation by the STF of the sentences he suffered in Lava Jato – the former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) asked: “Where is our dear Zé Gotinha?”.
The criticism of the former president on March 10, 2021, of the current government’s delay / neglect in the process of purchasing and distributing the vaccine, was on the minds of many.
Anchored at the starting line, we watched in amazement as the global vaccination race progressed, as we occupied – and sadly still occupied – the position of the global epicenter of the health crisis, averaging 2,000 daily deaths that month.
What we did not yet know, and we are officially learning now in May, is that Zé Gotinha, i.e. the starting point of our national vaccination campaign, could have appeared in 2020.
On May 13, the testimony of Carlos Murillo, chief executive of Pfizer in Latin America, to the COI of Covid in the Senate is crystal clear, saying that the company has manufactured at least five doses of the coronavirus vaccine in Brazil.
There has not even been a response to letters sent to several Planalto members in 2020. It is estimated from Murillo’s data that we could have 70 million units of the immunizing agent available by the second quarter. of this year.
Not by chance, on March 19, ten days after the broadcast of ex-President Lula’s speech in the press and on social networks, the federal government decided to open a dialogue with Pfizer and signed a contract for the purchase of 100 million vaccines.
Until then, the vaccine was not a priority. On the contrary, the current federal government’s narrative was essentially to disclose unreasonable measures without scientific support to the population, such as early treatment, through the use of chloroquine and ivermectin.
The presidential arson attack backfired opinion poll data.
There was a serious strategic error around President Jair Bolsonaro (without a party) in believing that the Brazilian population would not be interested in the vaccine and that they would have believed the majority of the unscientific discourse of early treatment.
Indeed, in October and November 2020, PoderData and Datafolha published research which indicated a decline in the intention of the population to be vaccinated. In PoderData, the last week of October, the index of those who said they “definitely wouldn’t be vaccinated” was 22%, and 63% said they “definitely would be immune” and 15% ” did not know “.
Previous data from the institute’s survey in August showed that 82% of those polled wanted to be vaccinated, meaning that the number of Brazilians who changed their minds increased by almost 20 percentage points in just two months.
Certainly, the president’s strong negative propaganda regarding “vachina” – as he pejoratively refers to Coronavac from China – has had an impact on these numbers.
However, as we know, opinion polls are photographs of a given moment.
The year has turned, and we have seen the sad explosion of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Brazil.
We have seen the city of Manaus suffer from lack of oxygen in hospitals, admissions and deaths have increased exponentially across the country.
At the same time, countries that reacted quickly began to vaccinate their citizens, bringing hope for a return to normal.
In February 2021, IPSOS published a global survey showing that Brazil was the second country where more people would like to be vaccinated: 88% of respondents answered yes to the question.
Unfortunately, due to the federal government’s failure to reject Pfizer’s proposals five times, we initially relied on the production of Coronavac, from Butantã, which was unable to speed up the vaccination of a continental country like the Brazil.
The nation has paid dearly, with the lives of over 400,000 people. Neglect has not escaped the public’s eyes.
On May 12, Datafolha released a nationwide poll looking at the president’s popularity as well as scenarios for voting intentions for the 2022 election.
Bolsonaro would be at his worst moment of his mandate, with very strong disapproval: 45% of those polled consider his management bad or terrible, and 54% would not vote for him at all in 2022.
Lula easily leads the electoral race. In a possible second round, the PT will score 55% against 32% for the current president.
The vaccine tipped the scales to keep Bolsonaro in power in 2022. In addition, of course, to indicators – and the electorate’s perception – of economic recovery, or not (including unemployment and inflation).
But according to the photo of the moment, revealed by the latest polls, the situation is very unfavorable to the current president.
Many lives could be saved if at least one of Pfizer’s five proposals received a positive response.
The eventual loss of Bolsonaro’s tenure in 2022 will be extremely cheap in the face of such a tragedy and omission.