In New York for the United Nations General Assembly, President Jair Bolsonaro (non-party) held a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday (20). The UK leader took the opportunity to praise the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and remember that he had already taken both doses. In response, the Brazilian actor said he had not yet been vaccinated.
According to a video clip published by Reuters news agency, during the meeting held at the British Consulate General, Boris was reported to have said that “AstraZeneca is a wonderful vaccine; I took it.” Soon, he modified, “Thank you all, I’ve already taken both.” Bolsonaro then pointed to himself, and said through an interpreter, laughing, that he hadn’t taken it.
The Evening Standard, a traditional British newspaper, called the Brazilian president a “right-wing populist” who “made strange claims about vaccines, including that they could turn people into an alligator”. Both Bolsonaro and Boris did not wear masks, and the conversation lasted about half an hour.
Bolsonaro has repeatedly said that he has not taken any of the vaccinations available in Brazil against Covid-19. The situation generated a fair skirt during a visit to New York, as the city was one of the first in the United States to require proof of vaccination so that people could attend establishments such as restaurants, cinemas and theaters.
In the midst of preparations for the General Assembly, it has been speculated that world leaders – and other delegates – will have to provide proof of vaccination to participate in closed events, including the UN summit. The Secretary-General of the Organ, Portuguese Antonio Guterres, stated shortly thereafter that he would not be able to prevent unprotected foreign leaders from going to the meeting.
Bolsonaro is the only G20 leader who has publicly claimed that he has not been vaccinated against the coronavirus. In January, Planalto imposed up to 100 years of secrecy on the president’s vaccination card and on any information about the doses of vaccines he had received.
Other issues were discussed at the meeting between Bolsonaro and Boris Johnson. The British prime minister, the Brazilian president, has promised that he will review restrictions on entry for travelers to the UK on October 4, according to one of the participants who attended the meeting between the two leaders.
Brazil is on the so-called “red list”, which requires travelers arriving in the UK to be quarantined in hotels designated by the government. With revision, it could have milder conditions.
Without an entry permit, Brazilians will find it difficult to travel to the United Nations climate conference, COP-26, which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November. It is expected that world leaders will reach a consensus on bolder and more ambitious proposals to combat global warming.
Boris would also have praised the prediction of the Brazilian goal of carbon neutrality from 2060 to 2050, announced at the climate summit, led by US President Joe Biden, in April. On this occasion, Bolsonaro also pledged to end illegal deforestation by 2030, even though environmentalists and scientists criticize the Brazilian president’s environmental policies.
Monday’s meeting also addressed the possibility of the UK sending resources to help Brazil reduce pollutant emissions, nature conservation and trade agreements.
According to the British Evening Standard, Boris told reporters that the goal of preserving the environment in the country is shared. “I think it is in the long-term interest of Brazil and the Brazilian people to recognize and preserve the amazing natural heritage that they have. And I’m sure President Bolsonaro agrees with that.”
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