Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro used his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday to defend the use of unproven drugs to treat the coronavirus and curb criticism of his government’s environmental performance.
Brazil’s far-right president, who has not been vaccinated against Covid-19, said doctors should have had more leeway in administering untested treatments for diseases, adding that he was one of those who recovered from an “off-label treatment with an antimalarial pill that studies have shown ineffective to treat the disease.
The decision by Brazil’s Mr Bolsonaro not to be vaccinated against the coronavirus played a major role in the first few days in New York, where world leaders gather for the General Assembly this week.
It made for an awkward moment Monday during a meeting with Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who greeted the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is being developed at Oxford University.
“Get AstraZeneca vaccines,” Mr. Johnson said during his meeting with the Brazilian president. “I’ve had it twice.”
Bolsonaro pointed to himself and said, “Not yet.”
Brazil’s far-right president has led one of the world’s most criticized responses to the pandemic. Bolsonaro repeatedly downplayed the threat of the virus, denounced the quarantine measures and was fined for refusing to wear a mask in the capital.
His administration has been slow to secure access to coronavirus vaccines, even as the virus overwhelmed hospitals across the country. Covid-19 has killed more than 590,000 people in Brazil.
Bolsonaro, who had a mild case of Covid-19 in July last year, has said he is in no rush to get a shot. Earlier this year, the president said he was undecided about getting a vaccine.
“I already had the virus,” he said said in a television video. “I think what needs to happen is that after the last Brazilian is vaccinated, if there is an additional injection, I will decide whether to get vaccinated or not.” He added that “that’s the example the boss should set.”
This has caused logistical difficulties in finding a place to eat in New York, where restaurants require customers to show proof of vaccination for indoor seating. Mr Bolsonaro and his travel group have flouted the rule. On Sunday, one of his ministers posted a photo of the president and some top employees eating pizza standing up on the street.
“A luxury dinner in NYC,” joked the minister, Luiz Ramos.
During Bolsonaro’s speech on Tuesday, activists planned to protest near UN headquarters against Bolsonaro’s environmental and economic policies, which critics say have contributed to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and widespread hunger in the United States. Brazil.
Earlier, activists projected messages on a building next to the Brooklyn Bridge that read: “Bolsonaro will lie with the United Nations” and “Bolsonaro burns your future.”