Boris Johnson used a meeting with the coronavirus-denial Brazilian president to promote Covid vaccinations only to undermine his message by not wearing a face mask.
The British Prime Minister met with Jair Bolsonaro who has been accused of sabotaging Brazilian vaccination efforts and claims not to have been vaccinated at the residence of the British Consulate General in New York on Monday, on the eve of the United Nations General Assembly.
Johnson, who was joined by new Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, told Bolsonaro he planned to visit Brazil before what he called the disappointment of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Prime Minister continued: But we were working together on vaccines. AstraZeneca is an excellent vaccine. I have AstraZeneca.
As the media left the room before the meeting, Johnson told them: Thank you all, get the AstraZeneca vaccines. He then turned to Bolsonaro, pointedly saying: I’ve had it twice.
In response, Bolsonaro laughed at himself and waved his finger. Not yet, he said via an interpreter. Bolsonaro has boasted of having developed excellent immunity against Covid after contracting it.
Although New York City health officials have said delegates must show proof of vaccination if they plan to eat inside or enter the general assembly hall, the secretary general of the UN Antnio Guterres has agreed that it would be impossible to deny access to unvaccinated heads of state. .
Bolsonaro, who is due to speak at the UN meeting on Tuesday, said before traveling from Brazil that he had not been loaded. Why would I get vaccinated? he noted during an online broadcast. Once everyone has been vaccinated, I will decide my future.
He claimed his antibody levels were so high that vaccination was unnecessary. Bolsonaro tested positive for Covid-19 in July 2020.
Bolsonaro is the only G20 leader who publicly claims not to have been vaccinated against a disease that has killed nearly 600,000 Brazilians, although the decision to place a 100-year secrecy order on his vaccination records means that many citizens doubt this claim.
The Brazilian president has been repeatedly lambasted for his approach to Covid, which has included downplaying the severity of the disease, dismissing the need for social distancing and making derogatory remarks about vaccines.
Bolsonaros’ meeting with Johnson is an important propaganda victory for the besieged leader of Brazil, whose ratings are plummeting, in part because of his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it seems unlikely that he be re-elected next year.
Bolsonaros collaborators and supporters immediately took to social media to proclaim the meeting as supposed proof of their president’s international popularity and to post official photographs of the two smiling leaders shaking hands. His enemies, meanwhile, described Johnson’s decision to encourage vaccination at the meeting as yet another international humiliation for Brazil and its president.
It was reported at noon Monday that a Brazilian diplomat staying at the same New York hotel as Bolsonaro had tested positive for Covid-19.
Although Bolsonaro is undermining vaccination efforts, Brazil has now administered the fourth highest number of vaccines in the world, after China, India and the United States. Almost 70% of eligible Brazilians have received at least one injection and more than 80 million Brazilians have been fully immunized thanks to the country’s internationally respected public health service.
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