Queiroga, the fake anti-vaccinationist

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By PAULO CAPEL NARVAI*

The minister of health went beyond poverty of spirit, reaching the level of spiritual indigence

The National Health Council (CNS), meeting on 17/9/2021, asked the Ministry of Health (MS) to maintain vaccination of all adolescents aged 12 to 17 years in the National Vaccination Plan against covid-19.(1) The CNS decision was motivated by the publication, two days before, of Informative Note nº 1/2021-SECOVID/GAB/SECOVID/MS, which had revised the recommendation for immunization against the disease in this age group, maintaining it only for people in this age group who have a permanent disability, comorbidities or who are deprived of liberty.

The CNS's decision only echoed the general outcry, in the press and on social networks, of the debacle that marked this absurd and scientifically unsustainable change in technical orientation. The mess promoted by the federal government in the Health portfolio, due to incompetence or bad faith, has been widely denounced by journalists and professionals in the sector, in line with what I called “epidemiological flat earthism”.(2) There is talk of “disaster” and “irresponsibility” among other qualifiers.(3) In defense of the anti-vaccination orientation, only Bolsonaro's bunch of fanatical acolytes and one or another doctor from these hosts.

Never, since its creation, on 25/7/1953, has the Ministry of Health had an anti-vaccination holder in charge. There were 49 until the arrival of Marcelo Queiroga, on 23/3/2021. The cardiologist was the fourth name given by Jair Bolsonaro in the last three years to, as he usually says, “touch Health”. Before Queiroga, Luiz Henrique Mandetta (1/1/2019-16/4/2020), Nelson Teich (17/4-15/5/2020) and Eduardo Pazuello (2/6/2020-23/ 3/2021). It should be noted that, in the period from 15/5 to 2/6/2020, the Ministry of Health, “punished” by the President of the Republic, became brainless.

The three ministers who preceded Queiroga earned several epithets on social networks, in view of their personal characteristics or the way they held office. Out of respect for the reader, I'll just say that Teich was considered “the brief one”, for obvious reasons. The epithets of Mandetta and Pazuello are too offensive. For his talkativeness, and for his pretense of seeking to reconcile science with Bolsonaro, Queiroga had so far been described as “the contortionist”, surpassing much more experienced colleagues in this practice, such as Mandetta.

Qualified doctor, former president of the Brazilian Society of Cardiology, holder of the MoH and national commander of the Unified Health System (SUS) studied, learned, knows what vaccines are and how they work. He is therefore aware of what vaccines mean in the contemporary world and their role in public health across the planet. Queiroga is also aware of the ethical implications of the decision he took as Minister of State. He is said to have been a doctoral candidate in the postgraduate program in Bioethics at the University of Porto, in Portugal, since 2010. More than enough time, therefore, to understand the multiple aspects involved in the issue.

After the announcement of the measure, with Queiroga participating alongside Bolsonaro in a live broadcast over the internet, in which once again the president placed himself as a herald of freedom and shouted against mandatory vaccination for public servants, the Minister of Health gave an interview in which he asked mothers not to vaccinate their children. It was an astonishing fact, absolutely unusual, as ministers such as Mandetta and Teich, and even the bravado Pazuello(4) (the one from “D-day, H-time”), spared themselves the embarrassment of putting themselves in the position of anti-vaccinationists, arguing with “what science says” to justify themselves before their political boss.

But Queiroga, no. With his cretinous appeal to mothers, he bizarrely aligned himself with Bolsonaro's antics and, renouncing his own convictions, of which he had repeatedly demonstrated, managed to betray himself. He's not anti-vaccination, but he talks and acts like he is. He is a well-finished example of how far people can go to stay in power, refusing reason, denying their own knowledge and committing violence against themselves.

Why did Queiroga do it?

The answer, heartbreaking for a Minister of State with the professional trajectory of Marcelo Queiroga, is that he did it only and solely to spare Bolsonaro the wear and tear of not having bought, in a timely manner, the vaccines that the country needs. Without vaccines for the implementation of the national vaccination plan against covid-19, prepared by the federal government and managed by the Ministry of Health, Queiroga tried to divert the subject and, seeking to take the focus away from the administrative incompetence of the federal government and, therefore, the lack of of vaccines, committed the folly of, without having any supporting studies, calling into question the effectiveness and health safety of the vaccine, in this context. He publicly admitted that his reference to the decision was a "Bolsonaro's request".(5)

Dressed as an occasional anti-vaccinationist, Queiroga went beyond poverty of spirit, reaching the level of spiritual indigence. With his regrettable and disastrous decision, unsustainable from any epidemiological angle and which contributed to the covid-19 pandemic continuing to kill in Brazil, he sadly fed the abundant national political anecdote, by creating an unusual type and definitively changing his epithet.

He stopped being “the contortionist” and became the first “fake anti-vaccinationist” in the world. For a doctoral student in bioethics, this is a very serious fact. In a word, the University of Porto.

For the control of the covid-19 pandemic in Brazil, yet another mess to demonstrate that the Bolsonaro government will not cease its aggressions against the citizenship and the country while Jair Messias is in the Planalto Palace with his pen that appoints ministers of the lineage of Queiroga. In a word, Brazilian men and women of all ages.

*Paulo Capel Narvai is Senior Professor of Public Health at USP.

Notes


(1). National Health Council. CNS recommends that the Ministry of Health maintain vaccination in adolescents aged 12 to 17 years. Susconnect [Internet]. 17/9/2021. Available at: https://tinyurl.com/bvwk4p7x

(two). Narvai PC Epidemiological flat earthism. the earth is round [Internet]. March 16, 2020; Available at: https://tinyurl.com/r9pxs94a

(3). Alencar B, Vidigal L. “Error”, “unfortunateness” and “regret”: Queiroga's decision on vaccinating adolescents is criticized. G1 [Internet]. September 16, 2021; Available at: https://tinyurl.com/etvnjpx9

(4). Barifouse R. “On D-day, at H-hour”: 7 key moments of Pazuello in the Ministry of Health. BBC News Brazil [Internet]. March 15, 2021; Available at: https://tinyurl.com/28wkhm5y

(5). Queiroga says that Bolsonaro advised reviewing the vaccination of teenagers. This is [Internet]. State Agency. September 16, 2021; Available at: https://tinyurl.com/4f8ujk58

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