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How Brazil became guinea pigs for unproven treatments
Bolsonaro's adoption of herd immunity after lobbying from those from other countries including Sweden's Tegnell created an environment for unethical experiments
Under the leadership of President Jair Bolsonaro Brazil is one of the most affected countries by number of deaths in the world, just behind the US. Bolsonaro followed a similar trajectory to other right wing populist leaders such as Trump in the US and Johnson in the UK.
While its likely that in isolation Bolsonaro would have made similar choices, attempts to influence other countries responses by the pro-infection lobby may have embolden him and/or provided the Brazilian public enough mixed messaging to create the space for him to more easily pursue a herd immunity strategy.
22 April 2020, Anders Tegnell and the Swedish ambassador attend the “Experience Exchange Brazil-Sweden, telling Brazil they need to learn to live with the virus. They estimated 20-30% of Stockholm was already immune and suggested children don’t spread covid. However an antibody study conducted at the end of April showed only 7.3% of Stockholmers had antibodies but Tegnell claimed antibodies were likely to have risen to 20% in the few weeks between the studies data collection and its publication in May. This claim wasn’t evidenced.
7 May Tegnell held a second webinar in Brazil where he stated no one in Sweden had been denied care, no children were sick and there had been no reinfections, Sweden was in a better situation that Copenhagen and New York who had gone into lockdown showing that there was no need for masks or quarantine, “Everyone has received the same level of treatment treatment they would normally do”. All of these statements are demonstrably incorrect, but these claims are made repeatedly by Tegnell and the Swedish authorities throughout 2020.
The Swedish strategy is successful, Tegnell told Brazil, “We’re reaching herd immunity; lockdowns are ineffective; isolating exposed is costly,” and on 14 May Brazilian President announced to a meeting of business leaders Brazil would be adopting a strategy of “vertical isolation”citing Sweden as the example they would be following.
“The federal government, if it’s up to us, is all open with vertical isolation and that’s that. The governors each assumed their responsibility, there was competition among many to see which closed the most.” Bolsonaro said, continuing. “Who defended more the life of your boter, the citizen of your state in relation to others. The federal government was never an obstacle. If it had depended on me, almost nothing would have been closed, like Sweden.”
Although it’s likely Bolsonaro just wanted to ignore covid anyway, it could be argued Tegnell and provided the confirmation bias and justification Bolsonaro was looking for. The results of this are clear for all to see with its high death rate. Bolsonaro’s use of language sounding like he had to battle against the scientists to protect people’s freedom is reminiscent of Trump and also of sceptic Conservative MPs and right wing media in the UK.
Bolsonaro’s promotion of herd immunity and hydroxychloroquine
An inquiry in Brazil in May 2021 concluded that President Bolsonaro had deliberately pursued a herd immunity strategy, as the New York Time’s reports.
Called “Brazil Can’t Stop” was launched by the president’s communications unit. Urging people not to change their routines, the campaign claimed that “coronavirus deaths among adults and young people are rare.” The heavily criticised campaign was eventually banned by a federal judge and largely forgotten.
Then the plot thickened. The government’s former communications director, Fabio Wajngarten, told the inquiry that he didn’t know “for sure” who had been responsible for the campaign. Later, stumbling over his words, he seemed to remember that his department had developed the campaign — in the spirit of experimentation, of course — which was then launched without authorization. A senator called for the arrest of Mr. Wajngarten, who threw a contemplative, almost poetic glance to the horizon. The camera even tried to zoom in. It was wild.
The upshot of their accounts is obvious, yet still totally outrageous: President Jair Bolsonaro apparently intended to lead the country to herd immunity by natural infection, whatever the consequences. That means — assuming a fatality rate of around 1 percent and taking 70 percent infection as a tentative threshold for herd immunity — that Mr. Bolsonaro effectively planned for at least 1.4 million deaths in Brazil.
After all, the president seemed to do everything he could to facilitate the spread of the virus. He has spent the last year speaking and acting against all scientifically proven measures to curb the spread of the virus. Social distancing, he said, was for “idiots.” Masks were “fiction.” And vaccines can turn you into a crocodile.
Then there was the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which Mr. Bolsonaro promoted as an early treatment and miracle cure for Covid-19 — despite all scientific evidence to the contrary and the express advice of two former health ministers. During the inquiry, two different witnesses somberly confirmed that they had seen the draft of a presidential decree stipulating that the drug’s leaflet should be changed to include its use against Covid-19.
(Hydroxychloroquine had been promoted by America’s Frontline Doctors and Elizabeth Vliet and Peter McCullough of Truth for Health Foundation. McCullough is also a Pandata member. AFLD’s founding member Simone Gold, Vliet and McCullough are all members of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons founded in 1943 to oppose public funded healthcare.)
“It gets worse. According to both Mr. Wajngarten and Carlos Murillo, the regional manager of Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company repeatedly offered to sell its Covid-19 vaccine to Brazil’s government between August and November last year — but got no answer at all. (Perhaps the health ministry had more important things to do, like learning how to properly use masks.) Considering that Brazil was one of the first countries to be approached by the company, a quick response would have secured Brazilians as many as 1.5 million doses at the end of 2020, with 17 million more in the first half of 2021.”
“Instead, after turning down another three offers the government eventually signed a contract in March, a staggering seven months after the first offer. The first one million doses arrived in late April. The rollout, as a result of the government’s negligence in securing vaccines, has been halting, with regular shortages of shots and a lack of supplies leading to delays in production.”
“It seems ever more clear that herd immunity, through obstruction, disinformation and negligence, was always the aim. In Manaus, where 76% of the population had been infected by October, the result was not hard immunity: It was a new variant.”
US and UK links to use of unproven treatments
The Brazilian town of Itajaí became a city-wide testing lab for ivermectin in 2020 when the Bolsonaro supporting Mayor allowed Dr. Lucy Kerr of Médicos Pela Vida (MPV) to use the people of his city for a trial describing Kerr as a “pioneer in the fight for ivermectin.”
MPV is a coalition partner of the World Council for Health (WCH) that was founded by Tess Lawrie. Lawrie was a member of South African based Pandata and UK based HART before founding the British Ivermectin Research Development group that is the sister organisation of FLCCC led by Pierre Kory. The WCH acts as an international umbrella group for organisations peddling all sorts of alternative medicines, from HCQ and Ivermectin, to spike protein detox, to protection against 5G. Recently the WCH has been warning of a potential false flag UFO invasion. The WCH also claims that vaccines are causing “turbo cancer” quoting Kory and Lawrie’s colleague from Pandata McCullough.
Kory was involved with publications based on Kerr’s research and also on her papers is Dr. Flavio Cadegiani – listed as an FLCCC “clinical advisor” by August 2021 – who promoted their Itajaí ivermectin research in a WCfH video alongside Kerr in April 2022.
Concerns have been raised regarding their work in Brazil, one of the Kerr papers was corrected in March 2022 due to undisclosed financial conflicts of interest including Kory’s position with the FLCCC and from ivermectin manufacturer Vitamedic which were received by Kerr and Cadegiani’s payments A Vitamedic representative admitted, “We had a 600% increase in ivermectin” from 2019 to 2020. The Brazilian Federal Court in the Rio Grande do Sul estate condemned MPV and Vitamedic in May 2023 for “collective moral and health damages” for their promotion of false “early treatment.”
As previously covered by Counter Disinformation Project Cadegiani had been accused of crimes against humanity for research into proxalutamide for Covid-19 in addition to ivermectin and HCQ, by Bolsonaro, resulting in 200 deaths in the Amazonas region. With Cadegiani lacking proper registration for that part of the country some study participants reportedly didn’t know they were being treated as test subjects. Research regulators have called his work the worst violations of medical ethics and human rights in the country’s history.
A small team of researchers have re-analyzed the Kerr studies in a pre-print paper currently pending peer-reviewed publication which claims the benefits of ivermectin in reducing “infection, hospitalisation, and mortality are entirely explained by statistical artefacts.” Following the uploading of the pre-print, MPV attacked critics, accusing them of fraud, with Kory amplifying their accusations.
In spring the Regional Council of Medicine of the Amazonas estate had dropped their charges against Cadegiani resulting in MPV describing him as “Brazil’s greatest living scientist,” however Frontiers in Medicine have retracted his proxalutamide paper following complaints that “found that the claims made in the conclusions were not adequately supported by themethodology of the study. Cadegiani responded by accusing the journal of being corrupt and of accepting bribes to drop his paper.
These examples from Brazil demonstrate the international nature of disinformation with individuals seeming to act in bad faith and self interest having a profound impact on unwitting individuals caught between questionable politics and the promoters of unproven treatments.