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Brazil is in talks with the United States to import excess COVID-19 vaccines, Brazil’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, as the South American nation struggles to stem the rise in coronavirus infections and deaths.

The ministry tweeted that, with the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, it had been in talks with the U.S. government since March 13 to allow Brazil to import vaccines from the surplus available in the United States.

The announcement comes after the administration of US President Joe Bidens announced Thursday that it will loan 2.5 million doses of the AstraZenecas COVID-19 vaccine to Mexico and 1.5 million more doses to Canada, despite a surplus of doses.

The government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaros faces increased pressure to report on his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the slow rollout of vaccines.

The country is seeing an increase in coronavirus infections and deaths as more than 290,000 people have died since the start of the pandemic, the second highest tally in the world after the United States.

More than 11.8 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Brazil to date, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Since March 13, the Brazilian government, through Itamaraty and the Embassy in Washington, in coordination with the Department of Health, has been negotiating with the U.S. government to allow Brazil to import vaccines from the United States. surplus available in the United States.

Itamaraty Brazil (@Itamaraty_EN) March 20, 2021

On Saturday, the health ministry said 79,069 new cases had been reported in the previous 24 hours, along with 2,438 additional coronavirus-related deaths.

The country’s health network is also on the brink of collapse in several parts of the country, as local and national officials have tried in recent weeks to impose tighter restrictions in a bid to stem the spread of the virus. .

Rio de Janeiro’s beaches were closed to the public over the weekend, with Mayor Eduardo Paes urging residents to stay at home in what he described as a very difficult situation.

Either we are aware of this and we respect lives, or we will live in an unmanageable situation in the coming days, he added, as police took up positions in front of the beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema and Barra de Tijuca.

It was the first time that the beaches in Rios had been closed to the public since they reopened in July of last year.

Earlier this month, Sao Paulo state governor Joao Doria also imposed a two-week code red lockdown, shutting down non-essential businesses and restricting other services.

The measures sparked protests across Brazil, as law enforcement authorities broke up large gatherings that violated the restrictions.

Al Jazeeras Daniel Schweimler, of Buenos Aires, said on Saturday that one problem is that there have been conflicting statements and actions from political leaders across Brazil.

While the mayor of Rio de Janeiro has closed the beaches, Schweimler said Bolsonaro has encouraged people to go and soak up as much vitamin D and sunshine as possible because he says it is the best way to fight the coronavirus. .

So you really have this big political problem: those who impose measures to try and tackle the pandemic, and the president and his allies say they are doing a good job, they are dealing with it the best they can, what n It’s not their fault and they really urge people to go about business as usual, Schweimler reported.

Bolsonaro, a COVID-19 skeptic who has avoided public health measures and played down the coronavirus threat, has asked Brazil’s Supreme Court to overturn the lockdown orders, local media reported on Friday.

They impose a state of siege, which is unconstitutional. They cannot do this without the approval of Congress. They humiliate the population by saying that they save lives. How can they save lives, they are starving, said Bolsonaro.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been criticized for his government’s handling of the pandemic [File: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters]The far-right president last week named Brazil the fourth health minister since the start of the pandemic, saying the country was entering a more aggressive phase in the fight against the virus.

Marcelo Queiroga, cardiologist, is committed to applying Bolsonaros policies.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian government has struggled to administer COVID-19 vaccines, delivering at least one dose to around 5.4% of the population so far.

Brazil approved two vaccines for emergency use in January: Britain’s AstraZeneca and the CoronaVac developed in China.

The country said last week it had ordered 100 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 38 million from Johnson & Johnson, as it negotiated for 13 million doses of the Moderna Incs vaccine.

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