Brazil has surpassed 300,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, becoming the second country to do so.
Brazil is second only to the United States, which has seen upwards of 500,000 over the past year. On Wednesday, Brazil’s health ministry reported 2,009 daily COVID-19 deaths, bringing its pandemic total to 300,685.
President Jair Bolsonaro has taken a laid-back approach to the pandemic, despite testing positive for coronavirus. At the time, the right-wing leader said he and four ministers in his administration were treating their infections with the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine. The drug was also touted by the then-US president, Donald Trump, ignoring evidence to the contrary.
Despite the increasing death toll, Bolsonaro still refuses to budge.
“Should I change my narrative? Should I become more malleable? Should I give in? Do what the vast majority is doing?” Bolsonaro said Monday during a ceremony at the presidential palace per the AP News. “If I am convinced to do otherwise, I will. But I haven’t been convinced yet. We must fight against the virus, not against the president.”
After dismissing the virus as a “little flu,” it seems he favors distributing vaccinations to Brazilians. “We will make 2021 the year of vaccination,” said Bolsonaro. In Tuesday’s national address, he cited the variants as the reason for the country’s spike in cases. He also blamed the media for exacerbating the issue.
“Most of the media has been countervailing,” he declared. “They spread the sensation of dread, with their flagship the high number of victims in Italy. The perfect scenario to be used by the media to spread hysteria.”
Senate leader and Bolsonaro ally Davi Alcolumbre announced he would not be supporting the president’s strategy.
“In this grave moment, the country needs serious leadership, responsible and committed to the life and health of the population,” he said after Bolsonaro’s speech. “We consider the public position of the president today to be grave . . . attacking the containment measures against covid-19.”