Brazil 2nd in global deaths, no vaccine yet

January 16, 2021
FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2021 file photo, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attends a ceremony at the Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil. Experts have blamed the president, a far-right former army captain, for fueling anti-vaccine sentiment in Brazil, compromising the mass immunization effort. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres, File)

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil hasn’t approved a vaccine yet, and independent health experts who participated in its immunisation program say the plan is still incomplete.

Members of the expert committee and former health officials interviewed by The Associated Press condemned the government’s unjustifiable delay in formulating a vaccination effort, in seeking syringe suppliers and months spent rejecting all but one possible vaccine manufacturer.

They also say President Jair Bolsonaro undermined the ministry’s effectiveness, pointing to the removal of highly trained professionals from leadership positions, replaced by military appointees with little or no public health care experience.

Bolsonaro, who said he had the coronavirus last year, has downplayed the need for face masks or restrictions to limit the spread of the virus.

Brazil is second in the world with more than 208,000 confirmed deaths, behind the U.S. with 392,000 deaths. It ranks third globally with 8.9 million confirmed cases in a nation of 211 million people.

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