Brazil politician who campaigned against Covid vaccine dies from virus

A vaccine-sceptic politician who backed a bill to ban compulsory coronavirus vaccinations has himself died of Covid-19.

Silvio Antonio Favero had claimed that the bill he had presented to the state legislature of Mato Grosso do Sul, in Brazil, would “guarantee the right of citizens to decide whether or not they want to be vaccinated”.

He added that his bill “aims to prevent vaccination from being compulsory since there is currently uncertainty about the efficacy and possible side effects of the vaccines, where they present a risk that is undoubtedly irreparable, since the short, medium and long-term effects of the vaccine are unknown.”

Favero, 54, was a deputy for the Social Liberals, the political party led by Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, who was criticised late last year for backing anti-lockdown protests.

President Bolsonaro has said he is refusing the vaccine and has devolved the vaccination rollout to state governments.

China's CoronaVac forms the backbone of Brazil’s vaccination system, although some states are using the AstraZeneca jab. Brazil’s vaccine rollout is one of the least successful so far.

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Just 8.6million Brazilians, around 4% of the population, have received their first dose of vaccine. Second doses have so far only been administered to around 3 million Brazilians. Brazil's health system is now on the verge of collapse as numbers of new cases and deaths continue to rise.

With over eleven million confirmed Covid-19 infections the country has the second-highest number of recorded cases worldwide, and the second-highest number of deaths with 278,229 reported at last count. In both cases Brazil is second only to the USA, which has a significantly larger population.

The South American country has been recording an average of 1,831 deaths a day, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Favero had been admitted to hospital in the state capital Cuiabá on March 11 and reportedly took a sharp turn for the worse on Saturday 13.

Mauro Mendes, Mato Grosso do Sul’s state governor, announced a three-day official mourning following the news of Favero's death.

"Favero left his mark on the history of Mato Grosso, fighting for what he believed to be right," he said. "A companion of the State in the search for the best conditions for the people of Mato Grosso. My wife and I wish you strength in this moment of mourning for the whole family and that God bless you and welcome you with open arms.”

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