The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, downplayed this Wednesday, January 12, the vertiginous increase in COVID-19 cases driven by the omicron variant, which, according to experts, could soon cause a new overload of the hospital system in the country.
“The omicron has not killed anyone. The person who died in Goiás did not die from omicron (…) He already had very serious problems, especially in his lungs, ”said the far-right president in an interview with the Gazeta Brasil portal.
The patient from the state of Goiás (central-west), a 68-year-old man, who died on January 6, is the first officially confirmed death in Brazil by omicron, according to the authorities of the Aparecida de Goiânia municipality.
Experts assure that this variant is already the majority in the country.
“Ómicron, which has already spread throughout the world, has a very large contagion capacity, but its lethality is very small, according to the people in the know,” added the president.
“Some even say that it would be a virus that would serve as a vaccine. According to some studious and serious people, and unrelated to pharmaceutical companies, omicron is welcome and can signal the end of the pandemic, ”he insisted.
According to the latest official report from the Ministry of Health, published Tuesday night, Brazil registered 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, an unprecedented figure since the end of last July. In the state of Rio de Janeiro (southeast), for example, the number of daily cases increased 1,500% in two weeks.
Despite the skyrocketing rise, Bolsonaro continues to fiercely oppose any restrictive measures.
“Our economy would not support a new lockdown. Brazil would go into bankruptcy, “he said.
The president once again defended the controversial proposal of “herd immunity” that would confer mass contamination.
“Herd immunity is a reality (…) I, for example, have not been vaccinated and I am very well,” he said.
For 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 beginning of the pandemic, the Brazilian president has not stopped criticizing the recommendations of experts to fight COVID-19, and has rejected in particular confinement, the use of a mask and vaccination.
A Senate commission of inquiry recommended in October his indictment for various crimes, including “crimes against humanity,” for having “deliberately exposed Brazilians to massive contamination.”
With more than 620,000 dead, Brazil it is the second country with the most fatalities after the United States.