Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced this weekend that he is considering withdrawing his nation from the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), the U.N. agency accused of helping China cover up the extent of the coronavirus pandemic.
Brazil has documented more Chinese coronavirus cases than any other country in the world except for the United States, though many doubt the veracity of statistics from authoritarian regimes, primarily China. While, under a federal system, Brazil’s states have taken the lead in imposing lockdown provisions, Bolsonaro has openly opposed them, often creating large crowds and other risky situations urging local governments not to destroy the country’s economy.
Bolsonaro reportedly cited President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the W.H.O. as a trigger for him to consider doing the same.
“The United States will leave the W.H.O. and we are studying, in the future, either the W.H.O. does its work without ideological bias, or we go that way, too,” Bolsonaro told reporters on Friday evening. “We don’t need anybody from abroad to advise on health in here.”
“What is that W.H.O. good for?” he asked. “The W.H.O. recommended a few days ago not to continue studies on hydroxychloroquine and now they walked it back. Just take their money away and they start thinking differently. … Trump took their money and they walked it all back.”
Bolsonaro was referring to the agency suspending research on using the drug to treat the Chinese coronavirus two weeks ago in response to a study finding that hydroxychloroquine may cause more damage than the good it can do to against the infection. The medical journal the Lancet formally retracted the study this week, prompting a resumption of the W.H.O. research.
Bolsonaro has been a loud and avid supporter of using hydroxychloroquine and its more toxic relative chloroquine to combat the virus. One of his former health ministers – Brazil is on its third health minister since the pandemic began – claimed Bolsonaro wanted his government to label chloroquine definitively safe for use against coronavirus, which he refused to do.
Bolsonaro appeared to equate the W.H.O. restoring research on the drug to Trump withdrawing its funding. The United States is by far the world’s most prolific donor to the W.H.O., indispensable to keep its operations running at the level they do currently.
If Brazil withdraws from the W.H.O., it will join the United States and follow the shocking expulsion of the W.H.O. representative in Equatorial Guinea last week. The African nation expelled the envoy after its government alleged that the W.H.O. was falsifying local coronavirus statistics.
Brazil is not listed among those donating to the W.H.O.’s coffers on its official website. The agency spends the least amount of its money on the Americas compared to the world’s other regions. The Brazilian newspaper O Globo noted, however, that Brazil funds the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), its regional subsidiary, to the tune of $24.2 million, which Brazil just retroactively paid last week for services allegedly rendered during the tenure of past socialist presidents.
A 2018 bombshell report from the Spain-based Diario de Cuba newspaper found that PAHO helped the Cuban government launder millions in profits from its slave doctor trade, intervening in a deal between the Castro regime and the socialist government of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to prevent the deal, which funneled what should have been salaries to the Cuban doctors for services in Brazil directly to Havana, from violating U.S. sanctions on Cuba. Bolsonaro condemned the United Nations for facilitating slavery during his General Assembly speech last year.
President Trump announced the withdrawal of the United States from the W.H.O. entirely last month. It is not yet clear what procedures have been taken to make this happen or what Trump’s government will do with the millions no longer going to the agency.
Trump cited the W.H.O.’s complicity in helping China maintain its image during the pandemic and its role in failing to prevent the consequences of it from being worse than necessary.
“We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engage with them directly, but they have refused to act,” Trump said. “Countless lives have been taken and profound economic hardship has been inflicted all around the globe.”
“The death and destruction caused by this are incalculable. We must have answers, not just for us, but the rest of the world,” the president concluded.
In May, the German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that Chinese dictator Xi Jinping urged W.H.O. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is not a medical doctor, in January to delay declaring the Chinese coronavirus outbreak a pandemic and to conceal information revealing that the virus was highly contagious from person to person. While evidence suggests the virus jumped from animals to humans late last year, by late January, the W.H.O. was still publishing false information claiming the virus was not transmissible from human to human.
Last week, a report surfaced, citing anonymous W.H.O. insiders, that the agency was aware of China concealing and falsifying pivotal information on the virus but chose to neither condemn the Communist Party nor act against it for fear that, among other consequences, the Chinese may physically harm scientists who tried to share valuable data.
At press time, Brazil has documented more cases than anywhere in the world but the United States, not taking into account likely falsified numbers from rogue states like China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia. Brazilian officials have confirmed 691,758 cases of Chinese coronavirus nationwide and over 36,000 deaths.
Those numbers may soon change, however, as Brazil’s Ministry of Health this weekend announced it would recalibrate how it tallies coronavirus deaths, causing an uproar on the part of Bolsonaro opponents who feared the recalibration would result in fraudulent numbers. The ministry took down its official website publicly logging the number of infections by state on Friday; it is not clear when, or if, the website will return to functionality.
Bolsonaro explained taking the website down on Friday, saying that the Health Ministry was working to public the “most consolidated results” of testing nationwide.
On Sunday night, the Health Ministry published new coronavirus numbers but added to the confusing and concern by publishing two case balancing sheets that contradicted each other.