Brazil marked 50 days without an official health minister today, as the country reports more than 1.5 million coronavirus cases.
The position is temporarily occupied by Army General Eduardo Pazuello, who has no previous medical experience, since the last Health Minister, Nelson Teich, resigned on May 15.
Teich, who spent less than a month in office, left following criticism from President Jair Bolsonaro that he was “too timid in the push to reopen the economy and to advocate for the use of chloroquine.” Teich, however, didn’t provide a reason for his resignation.
Teich’s predecesor, Luiz Henrique Mandetta — who advocated for social distancing measures, the use of masks, and never clearly recommended the use of chloroquine — was fired by Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro, who frequently defies social distancing guidelines recommended by most health experts and has dismissed the virus as “a little flu,” has been widely criticized for downplaying the severity of the virus.
Under Pazuello’s interim command, more than 20 strategic positions within the ministry have been replaced with military personnel. Nonetheless, the greatest criticism against him came when following Bolsonaro’s orders and desire to reduce the negative repercussion of the high death toll, he changed the format of how the data was presented.
After strong domestic and international pressure, Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court ruled that data should be presented as before. Despite the continued rise in Covid-19 cases and related deaths, Bolsonaro shows no signs of planning to replace Pazuello any time soon.
With more than 1.5 million confirmed cases and at least 63,174 deaths, Brazil has the second highest number coronavirus cases and deaths globally after the US.