On July 3rd, a Brazilian supreme court justice ruled that the investigation into the Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro will go forward. The investigation looks into whether the government’s handling of the pandemic was corrupt and if Jair Bolsonaro committed “prevarication.” “Prevarication” is the crime of putting personal interest above public duties and refraining or delaying a specific action. An example of prevarication would be if Bolsonaro pressured subordinates to delay a vaccine deal until a bribe was paid to a member of Bolsonaro’s political circle. Bolsonaro could spend a year in prison if found guilty of “Prevarication” by the investigation. This scandal and investigation into Bolsonaro come at a time when Brazil is in a complete crisis.
According to state-backed numbers over half a million Brazilians have died during the current covid-19 crisis in Brazil. Large-scale protests have taken place in many of the large cities across Brazil demanding that Bolsonaro be impeached. Many people are infuriated by allegations that members of the government illegally profited off of vaccine purchasing deals. Brazil has barely kept the pandemic under control and will probably remain in chaos for many coming months. Some citizens have painted Bolsonaro and his government as committing genocide for their personal profits. Bolsonaro was already under fire for multiple scandals before, such as the “petrobras” scandal, one of the biggest scandals in the country’s history.
Countries can only acquire Covid-19 vaccines via large government deals, and this dynamic creates a headache for countries with corruption issues. A corrupt cabinet can embezzle millions of dollars from a single vaccine distribution deal from big companies like Pfizer and Moderna. In Brazil’s case, the vaccine deal included a payment to a mysterious foreign company that was most likely linked to Bolsonaro. Other possible vectors of corruption would be in the distribution of vaccines. Certain areas of a country that paid bribes could unfairly get more vaccines due to the secret deals.
These corrupt deals are an everyday reality in many regions of the world that military rulers or corrupt post-cold-war dictators dominate. Countries in regions that were not founded with democratic principles do not have the same political safeguards as large western democracies. Often entire governments can be controlled by a corrupt leader, and the people are helpless because the leader owns the military. These conditions create a situation where governments can become extremely rich while the people suffer and lack access to vaccines. The main regions that are home to such corrupt government structures are Latin America, South America, and Africa.
Corrupt handling of the covid-19 pandemic has a slew of consequences that impact more than just the country being profited from. Millions of people could die due to a systematic lack of vaccine access. Lack of vaccine access might promote traveling to places with vaccines which could accidentally spread the covid-19 variants into new countries. Chaotic populations could create conditions where new variants are born, which changes the global landscape of covid-19. This new variant situation has already happened in India with the global rise of the “delta” variant. The chaotic handling of the pandemic could lead to unprecedented political instability, which might lead to more wars or civil wars. Extensive wars in less developed regions could destroy natural resources and create spillover conflicts in nearby nations. Finally, the covid-19 pandemic could be officially extended by months if less developed regions cannot get a hold on the situation. As long as new variants are a possibility, the pandemic will not be over.
The main worry for larger nations like the United States is the rise of newer variants. Vaccine makers worry that newer variants of the disease could be more resistant to vaccines than previously discovered variants. Another issue is that newer variants such as the “delta” variant are becoming more aggressive and more lethal, increasing the risk of new covid-19 waves across the globe. The “delta” variant has already mutated again into a “delta plus” variant, which is even deadlier. With enough variant evolution, the vaccines that saved many people today might not be as effective anymore.
The pandemic will continue to ravage the globe until covid-19 is dealt with everywhere. Achieving this goal could take a whole year with the current rate of progress in many countries. Future waves of covid-19 will be imminent with the current status quo.
Sources: https://apnews.com/article/caribbean-brazil-coronavirus-pandemic-health-courts-8bd3f0402a44fea594a6ce84ef76b747, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/03/brazilians-take-to-streets-to-demand-removal-of-jair-bolsonaro