Boris urges jab-sceptic Bolsonaro to get vaccine as Brazil approaches grim Covid milestone

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for COVID-19

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Boris Johnson, 57, held a maskless meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, 66, at the United Nations event in New York. While chatting to the South American populist in the city of his birth, the Prime Minister was videoed promoting the AstraZeneca vaccine to Mr Bolsonaro.

After describing COVID-19 as a “bummer”, Mr Johnson said: “We are working together on the vaccines.

“It’s a great vaccine.

“I have actually had AstraZeneca.”

Even when organisers were trying to wrap up the press huddle at the meeting, the Prime Minister channelled his inner Churchillian spirit as he raised two fingers to indicate he had been inoculated with two doses of the Anglo-Swedish jab.

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“Thanks everybody, get AstraZeneca vaccines,” he added.

The Brazilian President responded by waving his finger to suggest he has “not yet” received a coronavirus vaccine.

The populist far-right leader of Brazil has recently claimed he does not need to be vaccinated as he obtained natural Covid antibodies after contracting the virus in 2020.

Bolsonaro has also suggested jabs can turn people into crocodiles.

The Brazilian President said: “In the Pfizer contract, it’s very clear: ‘We’re not responsible for any side effects.’ If you turn into a crocodile, that’s your problem.”

He added: “If you become superhuman, if a woman starts to grow a beard or if a man starts to speak with an effeminate voice, they [Pfizer] won’t have anything to do with it.”

Almost 600,000 Brazilians have died from COVID-19.

Mr Johnson, who had also contracted the virus last year, received his second dose of the vaccine in June.

Number 10 has released a read-out from Johnson’s discussion with Bolsonaro.

The UK Government website reads: “The Prime Minister underlined the importance of vaccines as our best tool to fight the virus and save lives around the world, and emphasised the important role the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has played in the UK, Brazil and elsewhere.”

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The statement also suggests Johnson and the Brazilian President talked about how South America will respond to climate change.

Mr Bolsonaro election victory in 2018 ended the centre-left’s 20-years in power.

The far-right populist candidate for the Partido Social Liberal is next up for re-election in 2022.

Recent opinion polls suggest Bolsonaro would finish in a distant second behind the Workers’ Party nominee and former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva if an election was held today.

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