Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro has said he will not take a vaccine against the coronavirus even after it receives approval from his own government.
“I’m telling you, I won’t take it (the vaccine),” he said in a video posted to social media on Thursday. “It is my right.”
Brazil has recorded over 170,000 coronavirus deaths, according to an AFP tally, behind only the United States.
Bolsonaro faces criticism for his handling of the pandemic, which has included playing down the virus, opposing lockdown measures and relentlessly promoting the drug hydroxychloroquine despite studies showing it is ineffective against Covid-19.
He caught Covid-19 himself at the beginning of July, and more than half of his cabinet have tested positive for the virus in recent months.
Once any treatment is approved by Brazil’s health regulatory authorities, his government will “immediately organize” its purchase and distribution to those who want it, he said in the video.
But he added he was “sure” that Brazil’s parliament would not make immunisation mandatory.
Many nations are pinning their hopes on a vaccine to end the misery of the pandemic, with two jabs on the cusp of approval by authorities after showing about 95 percent efficacy in trials.
On Wednesday, US-based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer gave the results of the tests of their candidate to the office of Brazil’s health regulators, a necessary step to approve and register the vaccine.
Brazil’s health ministry has already agreed to buy 100 million doses of a different vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.