Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro says Covid vaccine can turn people into 'crocodiles' and give women beards
'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'
With the first vaccinations starting to make their way around the world, there are some who don't trust the vaccine entirely. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is one of them, though his stated reasons for this distrust are a lot more bizarre than most. Bolsonaro has repeatedly attempted to downplay the virus, despite testing positive for coronavirus himself after ignoring social distancing rules, and he is now spreading misinformation about the side-effects of the Pfizer vaccine — which he believes will turn people into crocodiles, give women beards and give men effeminate voices.
On December 17, during a press conference, Bolsonaro attacked Pfizer and claimed that the pharmeceutical company was not taking responsibility for the side effects of the vaccine that it's providing the world. "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 said. "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." There is no evidence that these claims are true — currently, the only known side-effects of the Pfizer vaccine are relatively minor, and include "pain at the injection site, headache, fever, fatigue, chills and muscle and joint pain" — not one crocodile person in sight.
Though the Pfizer vaccine began rolling out in Brazil on December 16, Bolsonaro has publicly declared that he refuses to take it. "Some people say I'm giving a bad example," he said, "But to the imbeciles, to the idiots that say this, I tell them I've already caught the virus, I have the antibodies, so why get vaccinated?" It should be noted that there is no evidence that those who have recovered from the coronavirus have antibodies that make them immune from getting the virus again. After Bolsonaro recovered from the virus, he said, "I knew I was going to catch it someday, as I think unfortunately nearly everyone here is going to catch it eventually. What are you afraid of? Face up to it."
Brazil currently has the world's second-highest death toll from the coronavirus with 186,356 fatalities, following the United States whose death toll is currently at 323,404 covid-related fatalities. Like Trump, Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down the seriousness of the coronavirus, despite the growing rate of infections in Brazil. On the day Pfizer began to roll out its vaccinations throughout the country, Brazil hit a new record of 70,000 new daily cases recorded, and December 17 saw another 1,000 dead from the virus, according to the Sun.
Despite this, Bolsonaro claims that Brazil is on the tail-end of the pandemic and that people ought not to be worried as it will end soon. Speaking on December 19, he said, "The pandemic is really reaching its end, the numbers have showed this, we are dealing with small rises now. But the rush for the vaccine is not justified because you are playing with people's lives."