Brazil's Bolsonaro slams health regulator for approving Covid-19 vaccines for kids
Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro criticized the country's health regulator Anvisa on Thursday for authorizing the vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years against Covid-19, one day after his health minister unveiled plans to inoculate that age group.
Bolsonaro, who has bragged about not being vaccinated himself and has consistently cast doubt on the efficacy and safety of coronavirus vaccines, said in a radio interview that he had not heard of children dying of Covid-19 and repeated that his daughter Laura, 11, would not be vaccinated.
Bolsonaro said vaccines could have side effects on children, but gave no evidence. Anvisa and health regulators around the world have found that Covid-19 vaccines are safe for those from age 5 and up.
"Are you going to vaccinate your child when the possibility of dying is almost zero? What is behind this? What are the interests of vaccine maniacs?" Bolsonaro stated.
The Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday that it had bought 20 million pediatric vaccines developed by Pfizer Inc and voluntary vaccination of children 5 to 11 years old would begin by the end of the month.
In a social media broadcast later on Thursday, Bolsonaro stressed that the vaccination was not obligatory. "No town mayor or state governor can prevent a child from going to school for not being vaccinated," he said.
Bolsonaro warned that Pfizer has not assumed responsibility for any side effects the vaccine could have in children and said parents should immediately seek a doctor if their child developed chest pains or a shortage of breath.
The Brazilian Society of Pediatrics rejected that view and said in a statement that Brazilians should fear the virus and not the vaccines, which can save lives at any age.
Anvisa approved the Pfizer vaccine for children on Dec. 16, drawing heated criticism from people opposed to vaccines and the president, who suggested that children only be vaccinated with a doctor's prescription.
The ministry dropped the idea as impractical. Requiring a written prescription would discourage vaccination at a time when the more transmissible coronavirus variant Omicron is starting to spread in Brazil, health experts said at a public hearing.
According to the national council of state health secretaries, at least 300 children aged 5 to 11 had died in Brazil from Covid-19 by the start of December.
Brazil's Army differed from the president this week on how to deal with Covid-19. It ordered soldiers to get vaccinated, wear masks and maintain social distance and warned them against spreading false news about the pandemic.
North Korea is ramping up the production of drugs and medical supplies to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc. According to the Korean Central News Agency on Thursday, North Korea is also increasing the production of traditional Korean medicines used to reduce fever and pain. In the capital city of Pyongyang and nearby regions, factories are churning out more injections, medicines and thermometers and other medical supplies.
Veteran diplomat Bridget Brink, who was nominated by US President Joe Biden to be the country's next ambassador to war-hit Ukraine, was on Wednesday (local time) given a unanimous approval by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for appointment to the post, which means that she just a step away from being Washington's new representative in the east European nation. She was nominated by Biden on April 25.
Officials in Spain and Portugal announced on Wednesday that they have detected around 32 suspected cases of monkeypox, days after the UK reported new cases that have triggered concerns that there may be an undetected transmission in parts of Europe. Portugal had five confirmed and 20 suspected cases, Spain eight suspected cases and UK seven confirmed infections as on Wednesday.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken on Wednesday met Pakistan's foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at the UN headquarters and their talks focussed on regional security as well as strengthening bilateral economic and commercial ties. Bilawal is on a maiden visit to the US at the invitation of Blinken to attend the ministerial meeting on the “Global Food Security Call to Action” to be held at the United Nations later on Wednesday.
The World Bank said on Wednesday it will make $30 billion available to help stem a food security crisis threatened by Russia's war in Ukraine, which has cut off most grain exports from the two countries. The total will include $12 billion in new projects and over $18 billion funds from existing food and nutrition-related projects that have been approved but have not yet been disbursed, the bank said.