The scene seemed very normal a nurse gives an injection into the arm of a 90-year-old man inside a car. The family records everything with their mobile with emotion, but when they get home and watch the video calmly they realize that the syringe was empty.
Shortly afterward, the nursing technician Rosemary Gomes Pita was giving explanations at a Niteroi police station, on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. She said that she did not know how to explain why she did that, that in ten years in her profession she had never made such a slip she claimed that she was stressed and extremely tired, explained to the police officer who questioned her, Luiz Henrique Marques Pereira.
The woman was fired from the municipal health department where she worked and has just been charged. The Prosecutor’s Office requested his arrest, understanding that his freedom was a risk to public order. Now he faces four years in prison for the crime of diversion of public property.
It is the case that has been prosecuted the fastest, but not the only one. In Petrópolis, also very close to Rio de Janeiro, a 94-year-old woman thought she had just been vaccinated, but the syringe was empty. In the video that her children recorded, the nursing technician is seen trying to remove the protection from the needle. The relative who records the moment sees that he has difficulties with the plastic and suggests changing the syringe. The technician, then, goes to the position where the vaccines are and take another syringe; He returns with another and applies it calmly, with nothing inside.
There are at least three other cases that are being investigated, in Maceió, São Paulo, and Goiânia. It is not clear what logical explanation there may be behind that gesture, beyond the carelessness and lack of care for the lives of others. They are isolated events, but they have set off alarms.
The nursing colleges are opening internal investigations and the health authorities emphasize that the companions of the elderly “can and should” record and take photographs of the moment of the puncture. If in doubt, they have to return immediately to the vaccination site to verify that everything is fine.
A MEDIUM GAS CAMPAIGN
The Vento vaccinations scandal, as they are known in Brazil, is just one more of the series of problems that the immunization campaign is having in the country. Brazil began to vaccinate later than most of its neighboring countries (on January 17) and today it has vaccinated, with the first dose, 3.3% of the population, according to Our World in Data. Vaccines arrive in droppers and at the moment many cities, such as Rio de Janeiro or Salvador de Bahia, have had to stop vaccinating due to lack of doses.
The situation is especially frustrating considering that, historically, Brazil is one of the world’s leading countries in the production and distribution of vaccines. Experts never tire of repeating these days that, willingly, Brazil, with its 212 million inhabitants, has the capacity to vaccinate five million people a day. The problem is that vaccines are lacking. At the moment, after more than a month of the campaign, 5.8 million doses have been applied and there are just over a million Brazilians immunized with the two doses, according to data from the Health Ministry.
The management of the Government of Jair Bolsonaro, which from the beginning questioned the efficacy and safety of vaccines against Covid-19, explains the paralysis. Currently, Brazil is vaccinating mainly with the vaccine from the Chinese laboratory Sinovac thanks to an agreement reached by the Government of Sao Paulo and to a lesser extent with that of AstraZeneca.This same Tuesday, the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), the regulatory body, authorized the definitive registration of the Pfizer vaccine. It is the first country in America to do so, but for the moment it will be of little use: Brazil has no agreement with this laboratory, which months ago offered 70 million vaccines to the Government.
The Bolsonaro executive refuses to buy vaccines from Pfizer. It alleges that the company demands that the State be held responsible in case of possible adverse effects of the vaccine. The National Congress of Brazil is working on a law to ‘bypass’ Bolsonaro and facilitate the arrival of more vaccines, yielding to the demands of this and other laboratories.