The aporia of the pandemic scourge

Christiana Carvalho's photo


A pro-vaccination MMA at any cost can be as perilous as the repulsive anti-vaccine dystopia of Bolsonarism

Dedicated to Dr. Fernando Antonio de Almeida


The decision of the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) in favor of releasing the use of CoronaVac and ChAdOx1[I] for the fight against COVID-19 in Brazil is, with all applause – and save for better judgment –, legitimately unscientific, in an idiosyncratic and extensive sense, in terms of the reflection of this text.

Under important reservations from the agency's technicians[ii], the dilemmatic decision reflected the backlash of public urgency and the tireless clamor of necropantopic pressures. In different conditions, far from the drag of emergency and misfortune, it is assumed that the agency would have sufficient reasons (demonstrated, by the way) to continue the pre-evaluation of laboratory products and the interaction with the proposing pharmacological and biotechnological research centers.

The effectiveness of CoronaVac, developed by the Chinese laboratory Sinovac, in partnership with the Butantã Institute, had an apparently low global effectiveness performance: 50,38%. Previous tests by the Institute, however, indicated total pathogenic regression and zero death in severe and moderate cases; and, in light symptoms, 78% of success.

Circulating information on the same vaccine points to the highest average global rate in Indonesia: 65,3%. The difference confirms the relativity of inhibitory performance according to territory, climatic-cultural conditions, genetics, viral load and exposure (in Brazil, test participants were health professionals).

In contrast, the effectiveness of the British vaccine, ChAdOx1, developed by the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, with know-how imported by FioCruz, is, on average, 70,42%.

Indeed, at least in the current phase of post-laboratory test follow-up, expert reports also guarantee that these vaccines do not cause significant side effects and, above all, fulfill the mission of anti-COVID-19 research: to curb or remedy contagion and saving lives, from mild symptomatic manifestations to the most severe ones.


These notes give rise to relevant socio-phenomenological deductions.

Certainly, the development, industrialization and distribution of vaccines against COVID-19 in less than a year constitutes feat dromoapta notable feature of XNUMXst century technoscience. Invocative of Greek prefixation dromos (referring to “race” or “speed”) – dear to the work of Paul Virilio –, the speed materialized by the international pharmacoallopathic industry has leitmotiv peculiar: along the lines of Enlightenment humanism, it acts to free the late capitalist world and its hybrid economic systems – in short, the entire social-historical realm of the commodity – from the historic sudden slowdown of economic production and expansion under neoliberal north. The right pennant for this is the urgent reduction of the number of deaths in each country of the commercial chain and, vice versa, the progressive annulment of the spread of contamination, in order to save the greatest number of lives.

Evidently, the aforementioned feat, by demarcating the cognitive power achieved by humanity itself (according to the competitive frameworks of the liberal view), deserves all the celebrations, in rebuke to the genocidal imposition of collective suffering by the unspeakable federal insolence of the extreme right in Brazil. This criminal irresponsibility – yet another, to justify impeachment presidential, within the more than 60 requests in the drawer of the Presidency of the National Congress – pushed the country dozens of positions down in the ranking overall start of immunization.[iii] How many thousands of deaths did not stand in the way of suspicious lethargy, technocratic incompetence and poor diplomacy of a State that was silent in relation to the public health rules established by the Federal Constitution of 1988? This unforgivable flaw accentuates the annual erosion of levels in the ranking of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), of the United Nations (UN). From 2019 to 2020, Brazil, among 188 other countries, dropped from the 79th to the 84th.[iv] (4)

Nevertheless, the perseverance of political prudence is too valuable to be thrown into the dustbin. The general picture of the scenario described brings to the fore an important fringe, overlooked in the public discussion about governmental, corporate and mass trends on the subject – a fringe tabooed in and by the exponential and disputed web of discourses and interests.

A courtesy of prudence demonstrates that the social affliction that understandably culminated in the boastful clamor for vaccine salvation (and that took over a significant portion of social networks) can be as socially unfavorable as the dissuasive reverberation of rustic Bolsonarist denialism, always frowning and mocking the pressing need for widespread immunization. The problematic nature of these historical-sanitary circumstances links all future techno-scientific uncertainties involving anti-SARS-COV-2 goods, however robustly they may contribute, in laboratory projections, to the mitigation (immediate and medium term) of the contamination curve and deaths. The expectation of absolute antiviral success obscures the problematic nature of salvationist pride by removing it from the everyday field of vision.

understand the ethos of the argument: as political and corporate interests are exploring and harassing facts at the surface of the skin, following the living history and still at close range, a free-for-all pro-vaccination at any cost can be as perilous as the repulsive anti-vaccine dystopia of Bolsonarism, tracing of Trumpism, both against the homelands. The world medical-health radar of vaccine side effects from the US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and the German biotechnology company BioNTech, for example, has been computing lethal adversities.[v] Unexpected claims require in-depth investigation.

The liberalizing tone of vaccinatory pride reveals its most counterproductive and pathogenic face the more it seems to encourage, in the realm of socially uncontrollable assumptions, the collective desire to let our guard down in relation to elementary health procedures, widely recommended since the beginning of the pandemic: no use of disposable masks, body distancing (from 1 to 2 meters) and hand hygiene, among other important care, the prophylactic utopia of mass immunization runs the risk of sabotage by procedural precipitation, especially since technoscience still does not fully know the mutator capacity and the potency of the virus.[vi] For various reasons, Israel, which has made notable advances in vaccinating the population (in the wake of a majority electoral process), recently needed to erect new confinement measures (for about 15 days) to contain the resurgence of contamination and deaths.[vii]


Evidently, the reference for the authorization of vaccine use should be objectively objective, so to speak: everything would have to depend, in reality, on strict technical verification –that is, free from inflation or political pressure, whatever they may be– on the most assured quality possible of the counterviral product in terms of effective immunization in all population ranges.

At this point, the social-historical aporia of the circumstances affects: with regard to the approval of the Chinese and British vaccines in Brazil, the pandemic club of time, observing deaths every minute, did not allow substantial and flexible margin of choice. Anvisa and all the laboratories (not just the beneficiaries) would certainly like to have it.

aporia (from the Greek aporos) demarcates an intellectual and discursive perimeter in which a structural dilemma, ascending over the existing cognitive alternatives, takes over the totality and the interpretative directions of the discussion. By metaphorical extension, it can be said that a situational aporia only allows an response – the reactive, immediate, unquestionable – under the irreversible drag of current trends. Any position established in this context turns out to be far from the desired ponderous serenity, captive of the correlated phlegm, the responsible slowness. Such a cognitive horizon, that of impassive pragmatics, characterizes not a state of unconditional unconcern, but, rather, a condition of concern free from constraints or terror of any kind. Mutatis mutandis, the crudeness of the pandemic reality hangs the mirage of rational and calm action on the wall of honor of the health idealism of well-meaning lay people. Health teams, especially those who are waging a direct battle against the pandemic, know that this is a rosy daydream. The tradition of medicine, like that of justice – two of humanity's oldest inventions –, although it can be technically predictive, acts on concrete cases and situations, often against time. The crucial decision urges precisely in the steep dilemma of having to take it.


These assertions may seem extemporaneous or inopportune, especially in the current context of anti-pandemic fatigue. The long months of 2020 were entirely consumed in escaping (or in homicidal indifference towards) the viral terror that infected more than 100 million people and sacrificed more than two million lives in almost two hundred countries monitored. The tragedy would be infinitely greater without the tireless and painful work of saving bodies and minds on the part of the medical and health teams, innumerable of them sadly diminished by the loss of pairs during the battle. They will continue to risk their lives in all care units.

The apparent extemporaneousness or inopportuneness of the assertions can also be mistakenly alleged due to the global ascending curve of the health calamity, currently under a second viral wave, cases of reinfection and mutations of SARS-COV-2.

In fact, the observations made only bring to light – as previously indicated – a relevant fringe of the problem addressed. The gloomy atmosphere of the pandemic scourge ended up involuntarily muffling it, in coincidence (also non-causal) with the lucrative interests of the powerful and multifaceted national and global pharmaceutical-allopathic industry.

For obvious reasons, shielding immune systems with the help of industrialized technoscience optimizers also includes preventing lives from becoming lethal victims of incomplete package inserts, with multiple side effects not yet fully determined and/or mapped, either by laboratories (in the advanced, involving the systematic evaluation of the largest number of human beings), whether by federal bodies or organizations for monitoring and authorization. Urgent allopathic immunization can never preclude the eventual lethality of “friendly fire”, even under the indomitable randomness of paradoxical sociobiological trends. Both necessarily encourage the sacred respect for the health of the population.


The despair spread by the precarious sanitary conditions in a countless number of Brazilian cities nails the mentioned aporia, noisy, in the table of debate on the subject, as serious as it is subtle. The equally legitimate dissent around the prudent distrust of a “half-vaccine”, for example – dissent under the (very correct, remember) argument of the need to save as many lives as possible –, pairs its apex justification with the nonsense: the aforementioned dissent has become fundamental in the circumstances of greed that, at the same time, presuppose and require it. This break-in detail emblematically configures the blind moment to which populations were led, between autopoietic pandemic aggression, pantopic social torture, serial political opportunism,[viii]speed of private interests and multimedia immediacy, in a robust supplementary atmosphere of fictional “characters” who are now captive: spiral of fakenews, ignorant rejection of Western heritage and “culture war”, among other chimeras.

In addition to being faced with the deaths that the vaccines themselves may eventually cause – so far nothing weighs on Coronavac and OXFORD, unlike the product from Pfizer and BioNTech, under verification –, the aforementioned dissent demonstrates, deep down, how much suffering in the open, combined with the state of emergency to combat it, paradoxically ends up making the old and insensitive motto of the quantities and quantifications, now under political-statistical pressure, is more relevant than absolute validity and per se of ONE life as a universal value. ONE life – that is, protected, saved, never lost – encloses an entire Cosmos, under the ethics of pricelessness. this detail sine qua non it differs, with resounding honors, a permanent worker in the health area, under oath of profession, and a temporary occupant in the upper floor of the State or the corporate field, eager to restart the economy at any cost. Doctors, nurses and assistants in the branch have already naturally incorporated what, as a rule, a passing government or executive only encompasses with a clipboard in hand, outside the concrete and usual affection – and, in this regard, the neo-fascists have not even commissioned the pen –: life as an absolute and universal value has a blind scale, covering no matter whether you are an Indian, black or white, poor or rich, peripheral or not, educated or illiterate, and so on. The State and the pharmaceutical-biotechnological industry need to learn axiology – from the first lesson, ethics – with “anti-pandemic war” medicine on the beds of hope and consolation.

In addition, all the care of politicized understanding of government, business and media intentions in the midst of circulating narratives is valid. The occluded protology of discourses has always shouted out more relevant meanings than the grammar of explicit signs.

* Eugene Trivinho is professor of the Graduate Studies Program in Communication and Semiotics at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP).


[I]Important details can be found at:

[ii]More information at:

[iii]See Our World in Data, website maintained by Oxford Martin Programmeon Global Development at the University of Oxford, in partnership with the Global Change Data Lab, a British organization that supports educational and social causes. See yourself at Context information on:;;

[iv] See

[v]See, for example,

[vi]Public speeches by leaders linked to the industry, trade and services confederations in Brazil have demonstrated understanding and action according to the complexity of the situation at stake. See yourself at,d7d4b347f81fac9d90eb616127b3da35f029qhj5.html.


[viii]News brings to light low-world procedures by political agents and ultravenal businessmen, plundered taking advantage of commercial routes (conventional and parallel) of oxygen cylinders used to combat asphyxiation caused by SARS-COV-2. In the shadow of millions of deaths in Manaus, they overpriced negotiations for the acquisition and delivery of tubes to health units, draining profits in the name of unconfessed interests. (Information also shows that similar procedures have been observed in other states.) In the case of political agents and government officials involved, willful anti-republicanism throws political and administrative sensitivity into the trash. The Amazonas State Program for Consumer Protection and Guidance (PROCOM) and the local Judiciary take care of the matter. Source:

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