LatinNews Daily - 09 December 2021

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BRAZIL: Doria challenges Bolsonaro on vaccine passports

On 8 December, the governor of Brazil’s São Paulo state, João Doria, said that his government would start requiring proof of vaccination against the coronavirus (Covid-19) from incoming travellers if the federal executive led by President Jair Bolsonaro failed to implement such a measure.  


Doria rode Bolsonaro’s coattails to election victory in 2018, but the two have been political rivals ever since. They are both expected to run in next October’s presidential election, with Doria recently winning the nomination for his party, the Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB). It is in his response to the Covid-19 pandemic that Doria has tried to make his mark and distance himself from Bolsonaro; he played a key role in getting the first Covid-19 vaccines to Brazil and has always been a vocal critic of Bolsonaro’s denialist response to Covid-19.  

  • Bolsonaro has been digging in his heels against vaccine mandates, which he claims are an affront to freedom, as he faced growing calls from both public health officials and local authorities for travellers to Brazil to be required to show proof of vaccination. Anvisa, the federal healthcare regulator, has expressed concern that Brazil might become a destination of choice for unvaccinated tourists due to its lax rules. 
  • The federal government eventually announced on 7 December that unvaccinated travellers will be required to quarantine for five days on arrival, while all travellers must take a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test within 72 hours of travelling, as was already the case. The new rules, which vary for entrance by land, sea, or air, were published in the official gazette today (9 December). 
  • Doria has taken a stand against the federal government. “São Paulo will not become a paradise for denialists”, he said, adding that state authorities will start requesting proof of vaccination from international arrivals by 15 December if the federal government is not doing so. São Paulo state is home to Brazil’s largest international airport and maritime port. 

Looking Ahead: Although Doria’s support for vaccine mandates is in line with scientific recommendations, his latest comments may be nothing more than political grandstanding: international transport is the federal, not local, government’s remit, and the new rules on quarantine for the unvaccinated effectively amount to a vaccine passport, even though the Bolsonaro executive remains fiercely opposed to the measure.

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