Written by Staff Writer
The top court in Brazil has opened an investigation into claims made by President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday that vaccines or medical instruments were contaminated during his military career.
Speaking at a rally of his supporters in the state of Minas Gerais, Bolsonaro urged Brazilians to take up a movement initiated by Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, accusing the state of indoctrinating babies with an “egoistic rhetoric” that prevented them from taking care of themselves.
“In the past few days, three classmates of mine tested positive for Zika, had developed AIDS and became infected with gonorrhea,” Bolsonaro said. “What a dirty trick. Because we vaccinate … we can poison the child. It’s a lie!”
However, the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANNA) said in a statement on Thursday that of all the children in the state who were vaccinated with poliomyelitis B, one of the three, who is now pregnant, tested positive for Zika in a 2013 case. The test was done because their mother had been pregnant at the time and was considered at risk, the ANNA statement said. The baby’s mother tested negative for the virus.
Bolsonaro, who took office in January, reportedly proposed his idea during a speech in Bareliri, Bali, where he met with nearly 200 federal and state representatives from the Brazilian Utopia Party.
The plan to inoculate children against “immorality” and Zika, and “break the fascist oligarchy,” came under fire from political opponents during a speech in Brasilia in July, but was quickly made clear Bolsonaro did not propose a tax hike.
Two weeks ago, in the run-up to the election, Bolsonaro compared vaccinations to “bloodsucking” mosquitoes and his rivals, saying they threatened democracy.
“One thinks that children like me were vaccinated, surely against measles, mumps and rubella?” Bolsonaro said. “I was vaccinated against Zika, but it turned out that I was not, because every time the EVAP test comes out, it turns out I wasn’t vaccinated against it.”
Last month, the Brazilian Health Ministry recommended immunizing a class of preschoolers in Minas Gerais state against rubella following claims that infant DNA had been mixed with adult DNA in a vaccine used for preventing a rare brain condition.
“The risk was low, it could not be considered a risk,” Minister of Health Alexia Ventura said. “Nevertheless, the risk was real. If it had been a mosquito-borne disease, it would have impacted the lives of these children.”
Federal Health Minister, Marcelo Castro, said the vaccines used in the Minas Gerais state inoculation were produced by a private company.