Brazilian President Bolsonaro taking hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus

Our Foreign Staff
·3-min read
Jair Bolsonaro  - REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File Photo
Jair Bolsonaro - REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File Photo

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he is confident that he will swiftly recover from the new coronavirus thanks to treatment with hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug that has not been proven effective against Covid-19.

Mr Bolsonaro said he tested positive for the new coronavirus on Tuesday after months of downplaying its severity while deaths mounted rapidly inside the country.

Mr Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and speaking to reporters in capital Brasilia.

"I'm well, normal. I even want to take a walk around here, but I can't due to medical recommendations," Mr Bolsonaro said.

As of Tuesday, his fever had subsided, he said, and he attributed the improvement to hydroxychloroquine.

He stepped back from the journalists and removed his mask at one point to show that he looked well.

The far-Right leader has caused huge controversy in Brazil for repeatedly flouting containment measures and minimising the risk of the virus, which has killed 65,000 people in the South American giant and infected 1.6 million.

The president has often appeared in public to shake hands with supporters and mingle with crowds, at times without a mask.

He has said that his history as an athlete would protect him from the virus, and that it would be nothing more than a "little flu" were he to contract it.

He has also repeatedly said that there is no way to prevent 70 per cent of the population falling ill with Covid-19, and that local authorities' measures to shut down economic activity would ultimately cause more hardship than allowing the virus to run its course.

Coronavirus Brazil Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Brazil Spotlight Chart - Cases default

Later on Tuesday, he posted a video to Facebook of him taking his third dose of hydroxychloroquine, which has also been promoted by President Donald Trump.

"Today I'm a lot better, so certainly it's working," Mr Bolsonaro said, downing the dose with a glass of water.

"We know today there are other remedies that can help fight the coronavirus. We know none of them have their efficacy scientifically proven, but I'm one more person for whom this is working. So I trust hydroxychloroquine. And you?"

Cities and states last month began lifting restrictions that had been imposed to control the spread of the virus, as their statistical curves of deaths began to decline along with the occupation rate of its intensive-care units.

Coronavirus podcast - Denial, rising cases and a positive test result for Brazil's President Bolsonaro 07/07/20 (doesn't autoupdate)
Coronavirus podcast - Denial, rising cases and a positive test result for Brazil's President Bolsonaro 07/07/20 (doesn't autoupdate)

Brazil, the world's sixth most populous nation, with more than 210 million people, is one of the global hot spots of the pandemic.

On Monday, Mr Bolsonaro told supporters in Brasilia that he underwent an X-ray of his lungs that showed they were clean, and that he would be tested for Covid-19. 

Over the weekend, the Brazilian leader celebrated the US Independence Day with the nation's ambassador to Brazil, then shared pictures on social media showing him with his arm around the ambassador alongside several ministers and aides. None wore masks, despite being in close quarters.

The US Embassy said on Twitter on Monday that Ambassador Todd Chapman is not showing any Covid-19 symptoms but would be tested.

The WHO wished Mr Bolsonaro a "full and speedy" recovery.