Brazil is Taking on the Pandemic With Resolve, and the Facts Show It | Opinion

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a historic challenge to every nation. Since the outset of the crisis, Brazil has taken actions to protect the lives and jobs of Brazilians and to cooperate with the world in seeking solutions. President Jair Bolsonaro administration's firm commitment to this effort, both at the sanitary and socio-economic level, is attested by the facts that follow.

The vaccine rollout is continuously progressing: up to now, 90.7 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed to Brazil's 27 states. Public biomedical research centers (Fiocruz in Rio de Janeiro and Butantan in São Paulo) are now receiving ingredients to produce an additional 17 million doses. All vaccines available in Brazil undergo a rigorous evaluation by Anvisa, our public health regulatory agency.

After 58.5 million inoculations, Brazil consistently ranks among the top five countries in the world for total doses administered. The shots are offered free of cost to everyone in Brazil through a public, universal health care system that serves all Brazilians.

In a country of continental dimensions (the world's fifth largest), with great regional geographical variations and a population of 212 million (the sixth-largest), distributing the vaccine presents unique challenges. The Brazilian government stepped up to meet these challenges and has been assisting remote and vulnerable communities, such as riverside populations in the Amazon. Priority groups for vaccination include Indigenous peoples, with 81 percent of those above the age of 18 in Indigenous villages having received the vaccine and 69 percent having received both doses.

View of Brazilian flag in São Paulo
View of a Brazilian flag in downtown São Paulo, Brazil, on November 23, 2020. NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP via Getty Images

On the economic front, the federal government in 2020 alone allocated over U.S.$100 billion—more than 8 percent of Brazil's GDP—to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic through resource transfers to states, job protection measures and direct cash payments to more than 60 million poor families. A plan with a total value of over U.S.$890 million has specifically benefited quilombolas and other traditional communities through monthly income allowances, food security and medical supplies and equipment.

From the beginning of this global crisis, the Brazilian government has maintained a close dialogue with several international partners, including the United States, in regular meetings coordinated by the White House with a select group of countries. Brazilian scientists shared information about P1 and P2 variant sequencing, carried out by VirusNet, a group of R&D labs in Brazil.

During this difficult time, Brazil has been instrumental in safeguarding global food security through the uninterrupted flow of high-quality, sustainable agricultural products, and in 2020-21 has harvested 271.7 million tons of grains, 5.7 percent more than in 2019-20. While fighting the pandemic and participating in international cooperation initiatives, Brazil has fed over 800 million people all over the world.

The government of Brazil, building on the strength of a dynamic and resilient society, is sparing no resource in its effort to overcome the scourge of COVID-19. It will continue on this path until Brazilians can once again lead normal lives and resume the task of building a better nation for all.

Nestor Forster Jr. is the ambassador of Brazil to the United States. A career diplomat since 1985, Ambassador Forster served in the United States in prior tours of duty, as well as in Canada and Costa Rica. His professional experience and expertise covers trade negotiations, financial policy and consular affairs, among other areas.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.