‘It Is Surreal’—As Covid Soars, Brazilians Blame Bolsonaro

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across Brazil Saturday, slamming the government’s pandemic response as the country’s COVID-19 death toll topped half a million—the second highest in the world behind the US BBC reports.
 
ICU capacity is at 80% in most states. Looming winter in the Southern Hemisphere could make the situation worse—but many jurisdictions are nevertheless relaxing restrictions.
 
With signs reading “Get out Bolsonaro” and simply “500,000,” Brazilians railed against President Jair Bolsonaro for delaying vaccine purchases, mocking coronavirus restrictions, and promoting disproven treatments like hydroxychloroquine.
 
Once known for its exemplary vaccination system, Brazil has fully vaccinated less than 12% of its population against COVID-19, AP reports.
 
The Brazilian Senate is investigating Bolsonaro’s handling of the crisis—including accusations that he delayed vaccine orders for political reasons.
 
Bolsonaro’s argument: That he has tried his best to acquire vaccines, and that economic lockdowns are worse than the virus itself, BBC notes.
 
“There is no explaining this, it is surreal,” said Robert Almeida, a 50-year-old marching in Rio.

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