Bolsonaro minimizes the omicron variant and insinuates that it is welcome in Brazil 0:41
As covid-19 cases skyrocketed across Brazil last June, Camila Basto waited in a Sao Paulo hospital to find out what was happening to her 9-year-old daughter Manuela.
People need to change their thinking about children and the omicron variant: "This virus is not a game", says an expert
Manuela had a fever that reached 40 degrees Celsius, spots all over her skin, and a lump coming out of her neck.
His kidneys stopped working for almost two days.
"His heart almost stopped," Basto recounted.
After three days, Manuela was diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a rare condition that affects children infected with covid-19.
A child receives a vaccine against covid-19 in the city of Volta Redonda, Brazil, this Monday.
(Credit: Ernesto Carrio/NurPhoto/Shutterstock)
Manuela managed to recover from covid-19, but its secondary effects left a long-term scar on her heart.
You now have arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat.
"It's so horrible. She was a healthy girl, with no underlying conditions," Basto said.
Yes, Manuela survived covid-19.
But hundreds of other children in Brazil do not.
Covid-19 could increase the risk of diabetes in children 0:42
Between March 2020 and November 2021, 308 children between the ages of 5 and 11 died from covid-19, according to data from the Brazilian Ministry of Health.
Pediatrician and infectious disease specialist Marcelo Otsuka told CNN that Covid-19 has killed more children than meningitis and measles in the same period.
In fact, he indicated, the virus is the second cause of death in this population, only behind traffic accidents.
What will a Covid-19 vaccine mean for younger children?
An expert thinks
Now, the ongoing national Covid-19 vaccination campaign for children ages 5 to 11 has provided relief to many parents in Brazil like Basto, who says it will give him "peace of mind."
Vaccination started this Monday.
And with schools reopening in February, many parents feel the same way.
Families arrive at a covid-19 vaccination center in Volta Redonda, Brazil, on Monday.
A national survey by the Datafolha Institute, which was published this Monday, revealed that 79% of the participants support the vaccination of children in that age group.
The survey was conducted by telephone on January 12 and 13 to 2,023 people over 16 years of age.
However, the vaccine is not coming fast enough for some parents, who have been waiting nearly a month to get their children immunized.
Are children the new victims of the pandemic?
Mainly, the president of Brazil himself, Jair Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro, who says he has not been vaccinated, has been widely criticized at home and abroad for downplaying the severity of Covid-19.
Even for discouraging others to receive the vaccine.
All despite Brazil battling one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world.
Bolsonaro's opposition to vaccines for children is the latest chapter in this crusade.
Facebook removes a video of Bolsonaro in which he says that vaccines against covid-19 increase the risk of HIV
On December 16, Brazil's regulatory agency, Anvisa, gave the green light to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for children.
That same day, Bolsonaro called the decision "incredible."
And, in addition, he threatened to disclose the names of the Anvisa officials involved in the decision.
Congresswoman Bia Kicis, a loyal Bolsonaro supporter who has also discredited childhood vaccination on social media, later revealed those names in a WhatsApp group of Bolsonaro supporters.
Kicis justified his actions by saying he thought the documents were public at a hearing on the matter earlier this month.
Congresswoman Bia Kicis speaks at a Bolsonaro rally in August 2021. (Credit: Mateus Bonomi/AGIF)
And just a few days before the vaccines began to be administered, Bolsonaro falsely claimed, in an interview with TV Nova Nordeste, that no child had died in Brazil from covid-19, before assuring that "some children must have died, but they had to have any comorbidity.
Perhaps those words are not a surprise.
Last June, while speaking at an event, Bolsonaro, who was not wearing a mask, asked a child to remove his mask and also removed another child's mask.
His actions are a slap in the face to the hundreds of parents who still mourn the loss of their children.
As well as for Manuela's mother, Basto, who feared the worst.
What symptoms or effects does omicron cause in children?
Bolsonaro has also said that he will not vaccinate his 11-year-old daughter.
And he argued that "children have not died in a way that justifies a vaccine."
However, "these vaccines offer really good protection, with even greater protection for children than for adults. And with excellent safety," pediatrician and infectious disease expert Dr. Marcelo Otsuka told CNN.
"All the studies suggest that the vaccines are safe and have very good efficacy for the 5- to 11-year-old age group," he said.
What activities are safe for children now that the omicron variant is spreading rapidly?
An expert explains
Citing data from the US, Otsuka said, "When data from the 7 million doses administered in the US to this age group are analyzed, no adverse effects of concern were reported."
But Bolsonaro and his government are not deterred by the mass of scientific evidence.
Meanwhile, his rhetoric continues to delay the administration of vaccines in children.
Bolsonaro's "paradox" with vaccines for children
Esther Solano, a professor of international relations at the University of Sao Paulo, told CNN that Bolsonaro's messages about vaccines for children are part of his long-term political strategy.
When the vaccine administration was approved, Solano said it represented a "paradox" for the Brazilian leader, who has been denying the effectiveness of the vaccines.
"He has to continue with his strategy, because he cannot change the discourse and adopt a favorable one for children," explained Solano.
The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, speaks about the administration of the vaccine in Brasilia, last March.
Now, the goal of Bolsonaro's anti-vaccine rhetoric is not necessarily to prevent Brazilian children from receiving it, Solano added.
In that sense, the expert pointed out that this position is part of her long campaign to recruit and play with her far-right base before the October 2022 elections.
"Bolsonaro is mobilizing his radical supporters with an eye on the next elections," Solano said.
Bolsonaro and Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga also proposed a public consultation period before applying the vaccines.
In addition to requiring parents to present a prescription to vaccinate their children.
Vaccines for children are essential, doctors say, while more and more children are hospitalized with covid-19
While those proposals did not pass, they did delay dosing.
So Brazil now starts the process much later than many other Latin American countries.
Including Cuba, Chile and Argentina, whose childhood vaccination campaigns have been going on for months.
And Queiroga has not ceased in his attempts to undermine its effectiveness.
This week, he falsely claimed that thousands of people had died from adverse reactions caused by vaccines.
Which directly contradicts the data of his own Government.
He later assured that the media took those comments out of context.
The reason why most children in Mexico have to be vaccinated 3:54
It is difficult to know how Bolsonaro and his allies will benefit from opposing vaccines for children, given that public support largely backs them.
Especially in an election year when the cards could be stacked against him.
Political scientist Camila Rocha told CNN that Bolsonaro's "goal is to unify and mobilize his main supporters (about 20% of voters) around a new controversy. As well as divert attention from other issues that may be uncomfortable." ".
The concern of all parents: to vaccinate their children or not?
What symptoms can they experience?
For Bolsonaro's supporters, the issue of vaccines for children will not affect their support, Rocha said.
"It could have negative consequences among people who voted for Bolsonaro and are disappointed with their governments and their attitudes during the pandemic. Especially women and young people," he added.
For Basto, Bolsonaro lost his trust a long time ago.
She has seen what covid-19 has done to the country and to her daughter.
“He is a crazy denier, what can you say?
It is incredible that a president has these attitudes," he said.
Covid-19Jair BolsonaroChildrenvaccine against covid-19