Brazil's Bolsonaro wants names of vaccine-approving officials despite death threats

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BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday that he has asked for the names of health officials that had approved COVID-19 vaccines for children in Brazil, saying he planned to make their identities public despite previous death threats.

In late October, Brazil's health regulator, Anvisa, released a statement saying that five of its directors had received death threats over the possible approval of COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged between five and 11 years old. The agency granted such approval for the Pfizer shot on Thursday.

Anvisa said it had reported the emailed threats to police and prosecutors.

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In a live weekly broadcast on multiple social media platforms, Bolsonaro said he does not interfere in Anvisa's internal affairs, but had asked for the officials' names so that the public "could come to its own judgments."

Bolsonaro has consistently cast doubt on the efficacy and safety of coronavirus vaccines and sharply criticized all forms of social distancing. His handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed over 618,000 lives in Brazil, is widely cited as a reason his popularity has plummeted this year.

Most recent polls have the right-wing former army captain's approval rating in the low 20s.

Anvisa did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

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Thomson Reuters

Rio de Janeiro-based correspondent specializing in the oil and gas industry, as well as white-collar crime and corruption. Recent stories have shed light on criminal wrongdoing by some of the world’s largest commodity traders and revealed how organized crime groups have infiltrated Brazil’s largest fuel distributors. Previously posted in São Paulo and Santiago and has also reported extensively from Argentina and Bolivia. He was born in Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard College.