Public health, emergency imperative

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By RONALD ROCHA*

The illegitimate occupant of the Planalto Palace manifests a level of ignorance and irresponsibility like few others in human history

On 10/12/2020, the head of militias and illegitimate occupant of the Planalto Palace, stated, in disarray already immune to surprises, that Brazil would be at the “little end of the pandemic”, that is, according to his conceptual preference, in the “end of the cold”. Speaks and diagnoses based on its “recognized clinical-epidemiological capacity”, duly assisted by the expertise minister Pazuello's castrense. He also declared, without even blushing, that, “taking into account other countries in the world”, his government would have been “the one that did the best” in the face of Covid-19. Sleep with such noise. Added to fundamentalist folly – ideological and confessional – there is also a level of ignorance and irresponsibility like few others in human history.

Less than 24 hours later, the death toll had surpassed 180 and diagnosed cases had approached seven million. At the same time, the “moving average” of those infected and those who died had risen in almost all member states and in the Federal District. In seven capitals, the occupancy rate in beds for ICUs, destined for the terrible disease that plagues Brazil and the world, had gone from 90% on average. Today, such numbers march to 200 thousand, the first, and eight million, the second. After going through a long plateau, where deaths hovered around a thousand per day, it began to decline slowly over a few months, to express a second wave in November and December. Thus failed the official policy, formulated in the symbiosis of amateurism with denialism.

Such figures do not exclusively express the size of the country's population, as stated in an empiricist, careless and even cunning comparison. Proof of this, in addition to a banal rule of three, is the local fatality rate, which is among the highest in the world, above those verified in Iran, China, Portugal, India, Turkey, Russia and Saudi Arabia, not to mention neighboring nations. such as Ecuador and Peru, to name just a few examples. In contrast to the well-known and well-documented official lies, one can identify the macabre performance of the central government as the ultimate result of the main immediate and combined determinations – objective and subjective – that act in the historical framework of the Brazilian capitalist economic-social formation, of monopoly-financial and dependent character.

First, the conjunctural crisis of the economy in Brazil, which has been skating atypically for six years and causing harmful consequences for the people. Then, the incidence of the pandemic, which made them even deeper and more serious. Finally, the regressive and frivolous policy of the Bolsonarian reaction, of a social Darwinist nature, which it imposed on the situation, already per se very serious, a touch lethal and macabre. The stubbornness of the Planalto, which openly preached the natural path towards “herd immunity”, regardless of the general tragedy and the increasing deaths, has to be the main target of accountability, as it presented the highest volitional density. Such a policy operated autocratically against common sense, as well as the technical guidelines of epidemiologists and sanitarians.

Pressured by public opinion, by the medical-scientific community, by political society, by conglomerates interested in vaccine production and even by ongoing changes in the world situation, anti-vaccinationism, realizing that its political and social base was withering, began to retreat, albeit with delay and at the cost of many lives. Of course, it does so according to the apostolic repulsion and the interests of laboratories based in the West, due to submission and loyalty to pro-imperialist geopolitics. The plan to discriminate against a vaccine simply because of its Chinese origin in agreement with the Butantan Institute, a public entity in São Paulo, lengthened sabotage, postponed measures and made the country miss the boat. The human losses are irreparable.

Bolsonaro is manipulating public affairs for private and lobbyist purposes, as confessed in a note published by the influential Anvisa summit on 14/12/2020, recording his axiological motivations: “It is also necessary to consider the potential influence of issues related to geopolitics that may permeate national discussions and eventually decisions by foreign authorities related to the Covid-19 vaccine.” Then, he refers to Coronavac, which Butantã produces: “There is still a risk that countries put national interests first in guaranteeing access to a vaccine for their own citizens, creating the potential to corrupt the rigor with which candidate vaccines are applied. to immunize against Covid-19 are evaluated for emergency use authorization.”

It therefore commits a flagrant illegality: article 6 of Law nº 9.782/1999, which defines “the National Sanitary Surveillance System, creates the National Sanitary Surveillance Agency, and makes other measures”, specifically characterizes, without any margin for doubts, the institutional purpose of the important autarchy: "to promote the protection of the health of the population, through the sanitary control of the production and commercialization of products and services subject to sanitary surveillance, including the environments, processes, inputs and technologies to them related matters, as well as the control of ports, airports and borders.” Such scope in no way allows prohibitions of the missionary species, with foundations in fundamentalist, idiosyncratic prejudices and such.

Not to mention the deviation of function and the grotesque trampling of the scientific criteria of an entity that should stick to technical opinions, there is, in addition to a tendency to demoralize, another harmful consequence: an imminent federative crisis. In the face of presidential conduct, hundreds of mayors and governors are trying to guarantee the necessary immunizations in parallel. Even without the endorsement of the capable organization, now heavily pressured, the first São Paulo representative has already declared that he hopes to start the vaccination process in January, even without proof of residence, precipitating the dispute scheduled for 2022, which already populated the nasty brain of the Phalangist president .

At the meeting of governors, on 8/12/2020, Pazuello postponed vaccination to “catimbar” and favor his private preferences. Immediately, the Secretary of Communication shouted that speed would be “cheap populism and irresponsible selling of illusion”. Only a presumptuous and delusional personality can consider itself capable of preventing the other federative entities from acting on their own, that the Judiciary recognizes their legal right to do so and that the popular masses seek health posts. The Central Government will be obliged to follow the norms of public calamity and manifest itself, under penalty of automatic authorization. Soon, health and federative issues became issues of the first magnitude, translating the struggle between classes or their fractions.

It is worth remembering what the Federal Constitution says. Article 24, item XII, as amended by Amendment no.o 85/2015, commands that public health is the competence of federal entities, and not just one: “It is incumbent upon the Union, the States and the Federal District to legislate concurrently on”, among other matters, the “protection and defense of health”. Obviously, according to article 200, items I and II, it is up to SUS “to control and supervise procedures, products and substances of interest to health and to participate in the production of medicines, equipment, immunobiologicals, blood products and other inputs”, as well as “execute sanitary and epidemiological surveillance actions”, which could incite, in a metaphysical and reductionist reading, the monopoly of the Ministry of Health.

However, the provisions referred to, if combined with article 198, item I, acquire an indisputable meaning: “public health actions and services”, even if they occur in a “hierarchical” way and constitute “a single system”, in fact “integrate a regionalized network”. The Amendments No.os 29/2000, 51/2006, 63/2010 and 86/2015 crystallized several “guidelines”, among which “decentralization, with a single direction in each sphere of government”. Therefore, with full political and legal justification, it is urgent that democratic and progressive mayors and governors, with the support of trade union and popular movements, as well as parliamentarians, parties and broad sectors interested in the defense of public health and life, endorse the campaign by emergency and unrestricted vaccination.

This path has already been pointed out by the Union Centers in their joint annual balance sheet, signed by CUT, FS, UGT, CSB, CTB and NCST on 23/12/2020: “The year comes to an end with the health crisis bringing all this adversity dramatic contours, amplified by the absurd practices of the Bolsonaro Government, which first denied and then minimized the seriousness of Covid-19; […] Faced with the crisis, […] the movements […] resisted. […] From now on, we demand that the country has a national vaccination plan, as quickly as possible and available to everyone, free of charge, through the SUS, in addition to encouraging and reinforcing all care to reduce the increase in contagion and deaths.” The document ends with the following invocation to combat: “Let 2021 come. We are ready to fight!”

In practice, even without greater articulation and organicity, forces accumulate. Even if the opposition continues to operate in a resistance mode, it is possible to achieve partial victories. It is also necessary to look for them. Strategic defensiveness requires tactical initiative. When the year changes, with actors positioning themselves for the next one, the political movements are being bad for the Federal Government and, consequently, good for the opposition sectors. On several open fronts in the dispute, including those concerning the institutional plan, even in the midst of a pandemic situation and without large mass demonstrations, the core of the Bolsonarian reaction suffered significant defeats, including incidents on the issue of immunization. Some episodes deserve mention.

Internationally, it should be noted: recognition of the new US president by the conservative Supreme Court, by the Electoral College and even by the Republican Party makes Brazilian diplomacy crawl on the backside of the entire world; the radicalization of health measures in a large portion of the Planet, in the face of the strong pandemic recurrence, contrasts with the inconsequential posture of Brasília; the vaccination process in numerous countries, including the USA and Europe, the superegos in the Mutt Complex, strikes denialism and obscurantism; the rejection, by the Federal Senate, of Fábio Marzano for Brazilian delegate to the UN in Geneva, sends a very strong message to the rulers, by sectors of the latifunded capital, on the environmental issue.

Nationally, the positions of the STF are registered, determining that the PGR investigate the institution Abin for advising the defenders of Flávio Bolsonaro on the Queiroz case and revoking the elimination by decree of rates on the importation of weapons or ammunition, as well as extending it for 90 days the inquiries into presidential interference in the Federal Police for their own personal cause and the anti-democratic acts of the conspiratorial group located in the palace corridors. Also noteworthy is the stance taken by the largest groups on the left, which tactically allied themselves with bourgeois parties concerned with democratic claims, to prevent Bolsonaro from controlling the Chamber, keeping it, according to the common note, “free, independent and autonomous”. .

Another clash, which is still ongoing, has immediate repercussions and will certainly enter 2021. On the 13th, Ricardo Lewandowski set a 48-hour deadline for the Ministry of Health to define the start and end of the anti-ssars-cov-2 vaccination, as well as to classify in particular the different phases of the plan. It therefore responded to widespread popular concerns, constitutional norms, the letter signed by the 36 researchers whose names were listed without permission in the ministerial document, and even pressure from the conservative media – on 13/12/2020, Folha de São Paulo stamped “ Vaccination-Já” in the title of an editorial. On the defensive, Pazuello accused the blow to his liver and agreed that the plan began right after the Anvisian permission, with deadlines.

However, the stockpile of diversionary weapons remains depleted. Hours later, the Brazilian Collective Health Association (Abrasco) publicly denounced that the ministerial plan contains “partial” and “mistaken” measures. Technical incompetence, certainly, but also new pretexts to create more obstacles to public health, since Bolsonaro then starred in two absurdities: he said he would not take a vaccine “and period”, wanting to close the case, as well as warning that the immunization would require a term of individual responsibility signed by the person concerned, in addition to proclaiming that “if my life is at risk, it is my problem”. The invention, as soon as it reached the Federal Chamber, was halted by its Presidency, in line with the position of the specialists.

Concretely, the far-right core group oscillates between anti-vaccinationism and pressure from monopoly-financial capital, the hegemonic fraction in the economy and within the main state bodies. The erraticism of the government's stance, which alternates between fundamentalism and inevitable flexions, is under pressure from the conglomerates involved in the manufacture of massive immunizers and fears losing ground in the middle classes. Meanwhile, even in a disorganized and belated retreat, it remains firm – due to intrinsic commitment, surrender submission, loyalty to US geopolitics, ideological revulsion and official duty – in the defense of Western imperialist interests, announcing several billion dollar purchases abroad even before the regular licenses.

Discrimination against the vaccine originated in China and produced by Butantan promoted sabotage, postponed measures and made Brazil miss the boat. Going back, but now trying to monopolize the role politically, Pazuello admitted to acquiring Coronavac for SUS. Head down, Bolsonaro referred to a “moment” conducive to “understanding” and “peace”, adding: “if any of us exaggerated, it was in the eagerness to seek solutions”. However, the minister suggested that the litigation would have been caused by “anguish” and “anxiety” from others. In view of the insecurity generated by the official policy, the other federative entities maintained the parallel search for vaccines, making the schism more evident. The Central Government is forced to decide: either the vaccine or the campaign goes out by default.

On 17/12/2020, the Plenary of the STF, by an overwhelming majority - ten to one - recognized the concurrent competence for vaccination of states and municipalities. It went even further: it sanctioned its obligation, as it authorized the consolidation into a rule of restrictive measures and penalties for recalcitrants, in addition to the injunction that allowed, after 72 hours of delay, the federative entities to buy products released abroad, in case the responsible institution fails. At the same time, it resolved in agreement with general repercussions - effect erga omnes – that parents should immunize their children, never being able to refuse to do so by subterfuge of “philosophical, religious, moral and existential convictions”, imposing a political and symbolic defeat on retrograde sects.

Meanwhile, the conspiracy continues. The proto-fascist representative challenged, in his live usual on Thursdays, peremptorily, universal vaccination: “with all due respect to the Supreme Court, it took an early measure”. He continued: “not even a vaccine”. He concluded: “there will not be a vaccine for everyone.” In addition, he used words of agitation against the deadline imposed on the responsible federal institution, practically confessing his intention to boycott the sanitary fight. In a similar environment, on the eve of Christmas, the Ministry of Health again went back and announced, through the voice of a secretary, that it was negotiating 100 million Coronavac vaccines, the same “antiviral” referred to as Chinese or communist by the ultra-reaction. He also admitted starting the immunization process in January.

The ministerial bureaucracy is picking up chips after not only the reality that slaps it, but also the notorious presidential foes. It behaves like a nutshell that oscillates in the seas of palace or, more broadly, bourgeois intrigues, dilemmas and disagreements. This is why the National Campaign for Vaccination-Já, Universal and Free, remains on the agenda, as a key issue, with all and any safe immunizers available. This initiative is related to the general political struggle, which includes the formation – in various spaces and sectors – of a democratic and progressive front to stop the retreat, as well as defend freedoms, national sovereignty and popular rights, with a view to placing a end in the Bolsonaro government and its policies.

*Ronald Rocha is a sociologist, essayist and writer. author of Anatomy of a creed (financial capital and production progressivism).

 

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