Tiago Tasca By: Tiago Tasca
Researcher in Global Health
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31 Aug 2020 : Real messiah nightmare

Everything seems normal in Brazil, except that we now have more than 120,00 COVID-19 deaths. Among the most challenging topics to be handled in this continental country is science, fake news (as usual, baby), and the Brazilian Unitary Health System (SUS).

The latest discussions about vaccine development in Brazil include a convoluted topic: science and technology budget. Unfortunately, Brazilian scientists are facing cuts in their research budgets, and these cuts are apparent when we are dealing with the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. We need - urgent - a robust program to encourage young doctors/early career in Brazil. Hopefully, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ), a branch of the Ministry of Health, related to research and pharmacology production, is not facing many budgetary hardships, especially the sector involved in technology transference. Well, everybody wants the vaccine, and the Brazilian population is near 210 million. Therefore, we should be prepared for a large scale vaccine production. Fortunately, we are negotiating the vaccine at the cost of US$ 3,00. Simultaneously, the Brazilian Regulatory Agency is running what is called rolling submission: a kind of "fast track," which included a high profile of regulatory measures. These are great news, despite daily setbacks.

Since the beginning of the coronacrisis, many Brazilian analysts said that the Brazilian Unified Health System (SUS) would be a game-changer in Brazil's response for COVID-19. Yes, we have adequate coverage. SUS reaches many coins of this vast country and covers more than 70% of the population (this number will increase after the coronacrisis because many Brazilians will stop paying their private health insurance because of economic hardships/crisis). We also have a good and well-known national immunization program - deployed mainly during the 1990s because of polio's outbreak. This program was also a pivotal element for polio's eradication in Brazil in 1994. Sadly, what we see today is that our SUS is still underfinanced, and we did not use the system to provide a robust response to COVID-19. We can easily see this through the highest death tolls: more than 120,000. Beyond the COVID-19 challenges, the political scenario is haunted. Politicians are discussing a tributary reform, which consequences for the health sector will be inescapable. 

Despite all these challenges, B*lsonaro's popularity is increasing, leading some analysts to point it as the "Messiah Complex." I sincerely do not think this is a complex, but a messiah nightmare. A real messiah nightmare. 

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