Brazil health regulator asks Bolsonaro to retract criticism over vaccines
The head of Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa has asked the country’s vaccine-sceptic President Jair Bolsonaro to retract statements he made criticising the agency for authorising the vaccination of children against Covid-19.
In a letter to Bolsonaro made public on Saturday, retired rear admiral Antonio Barra Torres asked the president to back his statement that there were undisclosed “interests” behind the vaccine decision or retract his words.
Bolsonaro criticised Anvisa on Thursday for approving the use for children aged five to 11 years of the paediatric vaccine made by Pfizer, saying he had not heard of children dying of Covid-19.
“What is behind this? What are the interests of vaccine maniacs?” he said in a radio interview.
Bolsonaro, a far-right leader who has bragged about not being vaccinated himself and has consistently cast doubt on the efficacy and safety of coronavirus vaccines, said the shots could have side-effects for children, but provided no evidence.
Anvisa and health regulators around the world have found Covid-19 vaccines are safe for those age five and up. According to the council of state health secretaries, at least 300 children aged five to 11 have died in Brazil from Covid-19.
The president’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the letter, which came days after another divergence between Bolsonaro and the military.
Brazil’s army differed with the president last week on how to deal with the pandemic. It ordered soldiers to get vaccinated, wear masks and maintain social distance, and warned them against spreading false news about the pandemic.
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