Brazil’s Supreme Court on Friday ordered an investigation against the country’s President Jair Bolsonaro for having wrongly claimed that coronavirus vaccines may increase the chances of contracting AIDS, Reuters reported.
Bolsonaro had made the comments in October during a live broadcast on multiple social media platforms. He had been temporarily banned from Facebook and YouTube after his remarks.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS has said that coronavirus vaccines approved by health regulators can be safely administered to most people, including those living with HIV, Reuters noted.
The court ordered the investigation in response to a request from a Senate Investigative Committee. In October, the panel had concluded that the Brazilian president had committed nine crimes in relation to his handling of the pandemic, including crimes against humanity. The president had, however, denied allegations of any wrongdoing.
On Friday, Justice Alexandre de Moraes ordered Brazil’s top prosecutor Augusto Aras to examine whether Bolsonaro’s remarks were related to a group of his supporters who are presently being investigated for alleged large-scale production of fake news, the BBC reported.
The court held that the president had “used the modus operandi of mass dissemination schemes in social networks” and that this required further investigation.
Earlier, investigations into the group had led to the arrests of several of the president’s allies. These included Roberto Jefferson, the chief of the right-wing Brazilian Labour Party, according to the BBC.
Bolsonaro has raised doubts about coronavirus vaccines on several other occasions as well. He himself has declined to take a Covid-19 vaccine.
In December 2020, he had suggested that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine could turn people into crocodiles or result in women growing a beard.
“If you turn into a crocodile, it’s your problem,” Bolsonaro had said, referring to Pfizer’s disclaimer that the company was not responsible for side effects. “If you become superhuman, if a woman starts to grow a beard or if a man starts to speak with an effeminate voice, they will not have anything to do with it.”