Brazil’s vice president taking antimalarial drug for COVID-19

Brazil's Vice President Hamilton Mourao looks on during an inauguration ceremony of the new Health Minister in Brasilia
FILE PHOTO: Brazil's Vice President Hamilton Mourao looks on during an inauguration ceremony of the new Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello (not pictured) at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, September 16, 2020. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

December 28, 2020

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao is taking the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as part of an unproven treatment after contracting the novel coronavirus, his office said on Monday.

In a statement, Mourao’s office said the vice president’s health is “good” and he is continuing to self-isolate at his official residence in Brasilia after testing positive for the virus on Sunday.

President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly downplayed the severity of COVID-19, while advocating for hydroxychloroquine as a treatment despite a lack of scientific evidence. He took the antimalarial himself when he caught the virus in July.

Bolsonaro has come under fire for his handling of the pandemic in Brazil, which has confirmed nearly 7.5 million cases and lost more than 190,000 lives to COVID-19 — behind only the United States.

Asked by reporters on Saturday about rising criticism that Brazil’s vaccine rollout has been slow and poorly explained, Bolsonaro said: “Nobody pressures me for anything, I don’t give a damn about it.”

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu and Jamie McGeever; Editing by Paul Simao)