Tiago Tasca By: Tiago Tasca
Researcher in Global Health
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16 Aug 2020 : 100,000: the number of negligence

When the first signals of quarantine were shown in Brazil, I remember that many people said, "we are overreacting. This "Chinese virus" will not cause damage in Brazil." Well, from the first beginning, these people were wrong! I can also recall many sentiments of xenophobia about Chinese people and Brazil's neighbors (mainly towards Argentina, Paraguay, and -of course - Venezuela). Since then, deaths from COVID-19 were increasing, and on August 8th, 2020, Brazil registered the horrifying number of 100,000 deaths from COVID-19. And so what? (I will try to answer this question because Brazil's President is unable/unwilling to do this).

Firstly, many professionals from the Minister of Health tried to advise the President about the dangers of this disease. Our two former Ministers said that the best way to cope with this pandemic is relying on science. On the other vein, Brazilian businessmen said that #BrazilCannotStop (these guys are highly responsible for what we're facing in this country, ok?). Business people (i.e., those wealthy / millionaires) have been trying to discard quarantine by saying this and ineffective way to handle the pandemic. When we think that this could be enough, we face another setback: the President nominated a military guy as an interim Ministry of Health. Since May 2020, we don't have a real ministry of health.

Additionally, the Minister of Health omitted the number of deaths and touted that Brazil is the leader of recovery people from COVID-19. This is so pathetic!!! And so what? We lack a political leadership scientifically informed, and this caused much damage in the Brazilian Health System (Sistema Único de Saúde), and many people died. This is unbelievable.  

Second, we're living in a collective political delirium of "CHLOROQUINE." President and their fool colleagues and followers are saying that HCQ/Chloroquine is the magic bullet for COVID-19. Unsurprisingly, many people started to take these pills as a preventive treatment for COVID-19. Shortages of HCQ/Chloroquine for people who need them (e.g., malaria and lupus treatment) were identified in several coins of Brazil. Ough, I forgot to say that the President himself got COVID-19, and he started the HCQ/Chloroquine treatment; he also touted these pills as the magic solution for COVID-19 despite no scientific study+trial on the subject. And so what? People's beliefs are firmly rooted in post-truth, and they undermine the role played by science in informing our decisions. Many people (aka the President's staunch followers) prefer WhatsApp sources than an RCT published in Lancet, NEJM, or related journals... This is so frustrating!

Third, the President does not show any empathy for 100,000 deaths, for their families and relates. When asked about this horrifying number, the President said he cannot do anything and thinks that life should go on. Yes, you read it accurately. Further, he insists that he does not have any responsibility for this number because the Brazilian Supreme Court said that the competence to legislate on COVID-19 issues was designed to governors and mayors. This way, the President blames governors/mayors for this tragic situation. As a narcissistic leader, the President will never resign (any similarity with Trump is not a coincidence). Last month, many human rights activists issued a petition at the International Court of Justice against the President, blaming him for genocide. At the same time, many of his supporters said that the WHO should be blamed for genocide because it does not recommend HCQ/Chloroquine. Yes, people are crazy! I know that the WHO made many mistakes during this pandemic, but blaming this institution as a genocide, guys... I cannot identify any logic rationale behind these thoughts, sorry. And so what? One hundred thousand means the number of negligence, a number that unveils the lack of leadership. This number reveals how post-truth phenomena can be detrimental to democracy and the health of people. 

We arrived at this sad mark of 100,000 deaths, and the President did absolutely nothing!

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