The “Omicron did not kill anyone” variant in Brazil, said President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday, downplaying the dizzying increase in coronavirus cases in the country, which could soon again overload hospitals, according to experts.
“Omicron didn’t kill anyone. The person who died already had very serious problems, in particular with the lungs ”, declared the head of state in an interview with the Gazeta Brasil site.
“Omicron is welcome and it can be the sign of the end of the pandemic”
This patient from the state of Goias (center-west) was the first confirmed death in Brazil from the Omicron variant, according to the municipal authorities of Aparecida de Goiania. For experts, the variant has already become the majority in Brazil. “Omicron has already spread around the world, and those who know what they are talking about say it is highly contagious, but with very low lethality,” the president added. “Some even say it would be a vaccine virus. Some learned and serious people, not linked to the pharmaceutical industry, say that Omicron is welcome and that it can be the sign of the end of the pandemic, ”insisted the far-right president.
This hypothesis is currently gaining ground among governments and scientists in other countries. Asked by a Brazilian journalist in Geneva about these remarks, Mike Ryan, in charge of emergency situations at the World Health Organization (WHO), said that “no virus that kills is welcome, especially if death and suffering are preventable ”. “It is not because the virus is less severe (with the Omicron variant) that the disease is mild”, he added, quoted by the Brazilian site Uol. Mike Ryan clarified that he was not aware of the Brazilian president’s comments before the journalist’s question.
According to the latest official report from the Ministry of Health, published Tuesday evening, Brazil recorded 70,765 new cases of Covid-19 in 24 hours, eight times more than two weeks ago (8,430). The moving average of the last seven days is 43,660 daily contaminations, unheard of since the end of July.
In the state of Rio de Janeiro (south-east), for example, the number of daily cases increased by 1,500% in 15 days. Despite this, President Bolsonaro remains fiercely opposed to any restrictive measure. “Our economy would not support further confinement. Brazil would go bankrupt, ”he said during the interview with Gazeta Brasil.
“I am not vaccinated and I am doing very well”
He again defended the controversial thesis of “collective immunity” that would be conferred by mass contamination. “Collective immunity is a reality. A person immunized with the virus has many more antibodies than a person who is vaccinated. (…) Me, for example, I am not vaccinated and I am doing very well, ”he said, a year and a half after having infected.
For Jair Bolsonaro, Covid-19 is a “politicized disease”: “I am perhaps the only head of state in the world who had the courage to give his opinion. Since the start of the pandemic, the Brazilian president has rejected, in particular, confinement, the wearing of masks and vaccination. A Senate commission of inquiry recommended in October his indictment for nine crimes, including “crimes against humanity”, for having “deliberately exposed Brazilians to mass contamination”, when more than 620,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the country.