Brazilians Get COVID Shot in Costume To Mock Bolsonaro's Anti-Vaccine 'Crocodile' Comment

Brazilians are reportedly mocking President Jair Bolsonaro's absurd claim that the COVID-19 vaccine can turn humans into crocodiles by becoming vaccinated while dressed as crocodiles.

Brazilians angered by Bolsonaro's bizarre comment from last December, as well as other anti-vaccine remarks he has made, have been lining up to be inoculated while wearing crocodile and other reptile costumes, according to a Friday report from The Guardian.

Some of the would-be reptiles say that Bolsonaro, whose populist style and conservative rhetoric has often earned comparisons with former U.S. President Donald Trump, is to directly to blame for the deaths of their loved ones.

"My costume was a way of expressing my horror," Leila Fernandes, a 60-year-old teacher wearing a crocodilian costume, told the paper. "I lost my mother-in-law, the husband of my niece and several close friends. You'll struggle to find a family that hasn't lost a loved one."

"We cannot forget what this president fellow has done," added Fernandes. "So many Brazilians have been buried who could have escaped death but died because of the president's impositions."

Jair Bolsonaro Crocodiles Costume COVID-19 Vaccine Brazil
Brazilians are reportedly lining up for COVID-19 vaccines while dressed like crocodiles and other reptiles to protest President Jair Bolsonaro's bizarre comment suggesting that the vaccines can transform humans into crocodiles. Bolsonaro is pictured during an event in Brasilia, Brazil on June 29, 2021. Andressa Anholete/Getty

More than 548,000 people in Brazil have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, the second-highest death toll in the world after the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University.

The country has administered about 124 million doses of vaccine, many of which require two doses for a complete course. Meanwhile, Brazil has a little less than 214 million residents.

Although Bolsonaro reportedly said that "everyone who wants" the vaccine would be provided it free of charge last December, he insisted that he would personally refuse the shots and that the Pfizer jab in particular could cause a raft of bizarre side effects.

"In the Pfizer contract it's very clear: 'we're not responsible for any side effects.' If you turn into a crocodile, it's your problem," Bolsonaro said, according to Agence France-Presse. "If you become superhuman, if a woman starts to grow a beard or if a man starts to speak with an effeminate voice, they will not have anything to do with it."

Critics say that Bolsonaro has continued to make questionable statements about vaccines, the virus and the use of face masks to mitigate its transmission. YouTube deleted 15 videos uploaded to the Brazilian president's official account on Wednesday, citing violations of the platform's policy against COVID-19 misinformation.

While some of Bolsonaro's videos have been blocked, at least one video of a Brazilian being vaccinated while wearing an outlandish costume to mock the president has remained online after quickly going viral.

A TikTok video of 29-year-old Klinger Duarte Rodrigues receiving the vaccine while dressed as an anaconda had been viewed more than 6.5 million times as of Friday. Rodrigues, who held a placard calling for Bolsonaro's impeachment while wearing the costume, lost his 37-year-old brother-in-law to the virus.

"If the government had been quicker to acquire vaccines, many people would still be with us," Rodrigues told The Guardian. "The best way out of this pandemic is the vaccine."

The Brazilian government disagreees with Rodrigues, telling Newsweek in a statement that "since the beginning of the pandemic, President Jair Bolsonaro has been sparing no effort to combat its socioeconomic consequences and provide universal vaccination. In 2020 alone, more than 8% of Brazil's GDP has been allocated to help poor families and strengthen health measures."

"The consistency of the vaccination rollout is demonstrated by the fact that Brazil, a country of continental dimensions, has already distributed 164 million doses of the vaccine and ranks fourth in the world for total number of shots administered," the statement continued. "The Brazilian government is defeating Covid-19 and resuming the task of building a better country for all Brazilians."

Update 7/26, 9:45 p.m.:This article has been updated to include a statement from the Embassy of Brazil in Washington, D.C.