The deal for 20 million doses of Bharat Biotech’s shooting has turned into a headache for Bolsonaro on allegations of irregularities.
Brazil will suspend a $ 324 million COVID-19 vaccine contract that President Jair Bolsonaro has involved in allegations of irregularities, the health minister said on Tuesday, following instructions from the federal controller, the CGU.
The deal to buy 20 million doses of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin shot has become a headache for Bolsonaro after the whistleblowers went public with alleged irregularities. A Ministry of Health official said he alerted the president to his concerns.
Bolsonaro, whose popularity has faded as the number of COVID-19 deaths in Brazil exceeded 500,000, has denied any wrongdoing and said on Monday he knew of no irregularities. But thorny questions refuse to go away and could pose problems for him before next year’s presidential vote.
Brazilian Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga said at a news conference that his team would investigate the allegations during the suspension.
“According to the CGU’s preliminary analysis, there are no irregularities in the contract, but to comply, the Ministry of Health chose to suspend the contract,” the ministry said in a statement.
Earlier Thursday, CNN Brazil reported that the ministry had decided to cancel the contract.
Brazilian federal prosecutors have opened an investigation into the deal, citing relatively high prices, quick talks and pending regulatory approvals as red flags. It is also being investigated by a Senate group investigating the government’s management of the pandemic.
Series of irregularities
House Speaker Luis Miranda, who spoke Friday afternoon at a congressional committee investigating Bolsonaro’s treatment of the pandemic, said he held a meeting with the president in March where he described a number of irregularities in the purchase of the Covaxin vaccine, produced by India Bharat Biotech. International Ltd.
During the conversation, as Miranda described, Bolsonaro blamed his lower house leader Ricardo Barros for being involved in the health ministry, but did not stop the purchase.
Luis Ricardo Miranda, brother of the legislator and health ministry official, told senators that in the analysis of documents related to the purchase of the vaccine, information was found that did not match the original text of Bharat Biotech’s contract with the Ministries. He mentioned that some differences would be the form of payment, the number of doses and the indication of intermediary companies.
One of the main opposition senators in this group filed a formal criminal complaint against Bolsonaro on Monday in the Supreme Court. Senator Randolfe Rodrigues said he wanted the court to investigate “the serious allegations” and find out why Bolsonaro “did not take any action after he was notified of the existence of a giant corruption scheme in the Ministry of Health.”
This is also the first time senators investigating the government’s response to the pandemic have investigated allegations of corruption involving close government allies. Until now, they were more focused on delays in buying vaccines and government promotion of unproven COVID treatments.