Brazil's Supreme Court Opens Probe Into Bolsonaro's Unverified Claims About COVID Jabs' Side-Effect
© AP Photo / Eraldo PeresBrazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attends a ceremony on the National Day of People with Disabilities, at the Planalto presidential palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021.
© AP Photo / Eraldo Peres
The president, who remains unvaccinated himself, has repeatedly cast doubt about the effectiveness of jabs, as well as downplayed the threat of the virus. At the same time, Brazil occupies second place in the world in terms of COVID-related deaths.
Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes has tasked the country's top prosecutor to investigate President Jair Bolsonaro's claims regarding the threat of developing AIDS as a result of vaccination against COVID-19. Moraes ruled that the president "used the modus operandi of mass dissemination schemes in social networks", when he made the claim, disputed by the world's medical experts, during a livestream on 24 October 2021.
As part of the probe, prosecutor Augusto Aras will be looking into a possible link between Bolsonaro's statements and the activity of a group of his supporters, colloquially known in the local press as the "Office of Hate" and alleged to consist of bots, bloggers, wealthy backers of the president, and even purportedly his aides. The latter are accused of spreading fake news related to the coronavirus and calling for a military coup to give Bolsonaro unlimited powers.
19 October 2021, 23:14 GMT
Bolsonaro himself rejected all the accusations against him. He said that he was quoting an article from an unnamed magazine, when he claimed that getting a COVID vaccine makes a person develop "Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) much faster than expected". The president earlier repeatedly downplayed the threat of the virus and the pandemic and remains unvaccinated himself.
© REUTERS / ADRIANO MACHADODeputies protest against Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro during a session of the Medal Award Ceremony Legislative Merits of the Chamber of Deputies in Brasilia, Brazil November 24, 2021. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
Deputies protest against Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro during a session of the Medal Award Ceremony Legislative Merits of the Chamber of Deputies in Brasilia, Brazil November 24, 2021. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
His stance on the virus has already prompted another investigation into his actions as president, namely into his handling of the pandemic. In October, the country's Senate backed a motion to charge Bolsonaro for failing to properly respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Brazilian president has repeatedly questioned the effectiveness of COVID vaccines and was even banned from Facebook and YouTube in October over spreading unverified claims concerning the virus and the jabs against it. Brazil is currently second in the world in terms of the the number of COVID-related deaths with 615,000 fatalities. Over 22 miilions Brazilians have contracted the disease, according to official statistics.