In a study to be presented at this year’s European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Lisbon, Portugal (23-26 April), researchers from Sociedade Mineira de Infectologia and Associação Mineira de Epidemiologia e Controle de Infecções show a correlation between the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s denialist attitude to COVID-19 and higher COVID-19 incidence and mortality.
The study, involving 853 counties in Minas Gerais (the second most populous state located in southeastern Brazil), finds that in Bolsonaro voting counties, COVID-19 cases and deaths were substantially higher than in counties where Bolsonaro lost the 2018 presidential election vote.
“The role of politics had a critical impact on COVID-19 responses to the pandemic in Brazil from the outset”, say Dr Carlos Starling from Sociedade Mineira de Infectologia. “President Jair Bolsonaro has denied COVID-19 severity, promoted treatments without evidence of efficacy, and discouraged social distancing, the use of masks, local lockdowns and other protective measures, which has likely resulted in higher infection rates and deaths from COVID-19 among his supporters.”
The death toll from Covid-19 in Brazil has passed 659,000, the third highest reported toll of any country in the world .
In this study, researchers investigated the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in reducing virus transmission and deaths from COVID-19 in 853 counties in Minas Gerais. They also explored the impact of the President’s denialist attitude to COVID-19 on vaccine uptake and COVID-19 cases and deaths, based on whether Bolsonaro had won or lost the 2018 presidential election in these counties.
Using data on confirmed cases of COVID-19 and deaths, vaccination rates, and 2018 election results from official government websites, the researchers calculated the COVID-19 incidence rate (new cases per 100,000 residents in the last 14 days) and mortality rate (deaths per 1,000,000 residents in the last 14 days) for each county between 21st January, 2021 (when vaccination started in Brazil), and 10th November, 2021.
Results showed that by 10th