In yet another baseless accusation against coronavirus vaccines, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday suggested that the Pfizer-BioNTech shot could turn people into crocodiles or result in women growing a beard, reported AFP.
“If you turn into a crocodile, it’s your problem,” Bolsonaro 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.”
On Wednesday, after launching the country’s immunisation campaign, Bolsonaro said the vaccines would be free but not compulsory. However, the country’s Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the vaccine was obligatory, although it could not be forced on people.
Bolsonaro, however, maintained that he will not get vaccinated. “Some people say I am giving a bad example,” he said, according to AFP. “But to the imbeciles, to the idiots that say this...I tell them I have already caught the virus, I have the antibodies, so why get vaccinated?” His comments are despite the fact that he had tested positive for the virus twice, within weeks, earlier this year.
The Brazilian president had tested positive for the coronavirus in July. He has been criticised by health experts for showing complete disregard for physical distancing norms by attending rallies and meeting groups of supporters, often without wearing a protective mask. A top judge in Brazil had to order Bolsonaro to wear a mask in June.
Bolsonaro had also downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic on multiple occasions. He has repeatedly urged people to go back to work, citing the deteriorating economy as the reason, and attended multiple anti-lockdown rallies. He has also made several insensitive and unscientific claims about the virus. In June, he had said: “We are sorry for all the dead, but that’s everyone’s destiny.” He had also called the disease a “little flu”. Then, in April, on being asked about the rising toll in Brazil, he said, “So what? I’m sorry, but what do you want me to do?”
Brazil has recorded the third-highest number of coronavirus cases, after India and United States, with over 71.62 lakh infections. In terms of deaths, it is second only to the US, with a toll of over 1.85 lakh, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University and Medicine.