Brazil
Bolsonaro denounced for overpriced purchase of vaccine from India
Deputy Luis Miranda told the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry that Bolsonaro was aware of the irregularity. The commission is investigating a parallel health cabinet that dictated denial policies.

The Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (ICC), investigating the Brazilian Government's responsibility for the serious consequences of the pandemic, received a high-impact complaint. Deputy Luis Miranda said the purchase of the Covaxin vaccine produced in India was overpriced.

After testifying at the ICC, Miranda told CNN: "I revealed (the evidence) to Bolsonaro. It is very serious. There is misconduct, irregular invoicing, requests for advances not provide for in the contract, different amounts."

Miranda explained that he decided to go to the president because his brother, Luis Ricardo Fernandes Miranda, who is a career official in the Health Ministry, was suffering reprisals for resisting to negotiations. He had already been exonerated from a position of trust and, according to the deputy, he only resumed his position after the congressman himself directly spoke with Eduardo Pazuello, who was the minister at the time.

"When I saw that the case was serious and that there could be people involved at the highest levels, I went straight to the president. I did it at the request of my brother, who did not trust anyone and was afraid," he said.

According to the deputy, the meeting with the president took place on March 20, at 4:30 p.m. Miranda said he, his brother and his wife, who stayed in the anteroom, met with the president and gave him concrete evidence: the copy of the contract, the fraudulent invoice and the comparison between them.

According to the deputy's statement, the Health Ministry headed by military officer Eduardo Pazuello allowed a purchase of 80 reais of the Indian vaccine compared with a lower price set by Pfizer, Astrazeneca or Coronavac. In addition, Covaxin was the only vaccine in which the Ministry of Health participated in the purchase. The remaining had the participation of the Fiocruz foundation and the government of SĂŁo Paulo.

Deputy Luis Miranda. 

"If confirmed, we would be witnessing the first serious indication of corruption in a pandemic," a source close to the ICC explained. After the serious complaint, Mirada denounced pressure from militia groups and asked for protection from the ICC, which was granted.

According to the deputy's statement, the Health Ministry headed by military officer Eduardo Pazuello allowed a purchase of 80 reais of the Indian vaccine compared with a lower price set by Pfizer, Astrazeneca or Coronavac. In addition, Covaxin was the only vaccine in which the Ministry of Health participated in the purchase. The remaining had the participation of Fiocruz foundation and the government of SĂŁo Paulo.

Another relevant issue that Parliament intends to uncover is what is known as the "Parallel Cabinet" of Health. The accusation is based on accusations that Bolsonaro empowers a group headed by the deputy and former Minister of Citizenship, Osmar Terra, in charge of dictating policies contrary to that of former minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta. Those decisions were linked to the use of chloroquine or the refusal to mandate masks. The parallel cabinet involved the participation of Physician Nise Yamaguchi and Bolsonaro's son, Carlos, who is dubbed "the Federal Councilor" in the corridors of Brasilia because he spends his days with his father instead of going to work in Rio de Janeiro.

Another relevant issue that Parliament intends to uncover is what is known as the "Parallel Cabinet" of Health. The accusation is based on accusations that Bolsonaro empowers a group headed by the deputy and former Minister of Citizenship, Osmar Terra, in charge of dictating policies contrary to that of former minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta.

The problem with this complaint is that, despite being controversial, this "parallel Cabinet" is still a consultation group for the president and that does not imply any crime.

The source close to the ICC acknowledged to LPO that "there is no clear path to move into the judicial sphere. A strong case is needed for there to be prosecutions. There was media support, since it spread in social media and TV networks and it is covered by the news, but there is little in terms of evidence that will actually put the government at risk, it's all been more political than judicial." "The most serious accusation is the overpricing," he added.

The ICC is going through its eighth week of arguments. It was created to investigate the performance of the Executive Branch in the pandemic, which, to date, has caused more than 500,000 deaths and almost 18 million infections.

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