Unvaccinated Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday suggested that his approach toward Covid-19 would be proven right.
‘History and science will hold everyone accountable,’ he told world leaders in his address.
The right-wing Brazilian leader said he supported vaccinations but promoted early treatment of Covid-19, noting that he himself underwent ‘early treatment’ following a diagnosis last summer.
‘We cannot understand why many countries, together with a large portion of the media, took a stance against early treatment measures,’ Bolsonaro said.
Bolsonaro said that his government stood against vaccine mandates, such as the one he had broken to enter the United Nations. New York City requires vaccination to enter most public spaces, including convention centers.
President Biden, too, as imposed sweeping vaccine mandates that cover federal workers and those at companies with over 100 employees.
‘We support vaccination efforts, however my administration has not supported a vaccine or health passport or any other vaccine-related obligations,’ Bolsonaro said.
He noted that by November, ‘all citizens who have chosen to be vaccinated in Brazil will be duly covered.’
In a meeting Monday night with Bolsonaro, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘Thanks everybody. Get AstraZeneca vaccines.’
‘I’ve had it twice.’
‘Not yet,’ the Brazilian president replied.
Earlier this year, Bolsonaro signaled he wasn’t in a rush to get the jab since he’d already had Covid.
‘I already had the virus,’ he said. ‘I think what must happen is that after the last Brazilian gets vaccinated, if there’s a spare shot, I will decide whether or not I get vaccinated.’ He added that ‘that’s the example the boss must provide.’
Before talking about vaccinations, Bolsonaro in his address touted his administration’s accomplishments, saying the Brazil has ‘changed a great deal’ since he took office in 2019.
‘It is a solid foundation if we take into account that we were at the brink of socialism,’ he said. ‘Brazil has a president who believes in God, respects the Constitution, values family principles and is loyal to his people.’
The far-right politician wore a mask as he entered the United Nations Tuesday morning but took it off to deliver his address.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro broke New York City’s COVID-19 mandates by attending an indoor event – the United Nations General Assembly – unvaccinated
‘We cannot understand why many countries, together with a large portion of the media, took a stance against early treatment measures,’ Bolsonaro said in his speech at the UNGA
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro (right) arrived with his wife Michelle Bolsonaro (left) to the United Nations Tuesday morning. Both of them wore masks
During a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) on Monday in New York, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (left) confirmed that he remained unvaccinated
Upon landing in New York City, Bolsonaro had his first meal in the U.S. in the middle of the street due to restrictive city-wide restrictions not allowing unvaccinated people to dine indoors.
Bolsonaro and his ministers had pizza slices and sodas in the middle of the street on Sunday prior to his arrival at the U.N. Tuesday morning.
Pictures of the humble meal emerged on the Minister of Tourism Gilson Machado’s social media of Bolsonaro with the Brazilian Ministers of Health, Marcelo Queiroga; Justice and Public Security, Anderson Torres; Civil House, Luiz Eduardo Ramos; and President of Caixa Econômica Federal, Pedro Guimarães, according to Brazilian news site Correio Braziliense.
A member of his delegation, who arrived in New York City a week before the president, has since tested positive for COVID-19. He has been placed in quarantine at a NYC hotel.
Bolsonaro, who has been vocal in dismissing the seriousness of the virus, tested positive in July 2020. He previously described the disease as nothing more than ‘a little flu’ and claimed his past as an athlete would make him immune to the worst symptoms.
Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro (pictured third from left) had to eat pizza outside on the street in New York City because he is unvaccinated
Pictures of Bolsonaro emerged of his first meal on U.S. soil for the United Nations General Assembly Meeting this week. He was joined by Caixa Economica Federal Bank President Pedro Guimaraes, General Luiz Eduardo Ramos, Tourism Minister Gilson Machado Neto, Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga and other politicians
Also according to the report, Bolsonaro and his ministers, all unmasked, had to sneak in the back door of their hotel in New York City as they were met by a group of protesters with signs telling him he is not welcome.
Brazil’s government has imposed 100-year secrecy on Bolsonaro’s card, making it impossible to know for sure if he’s been vaccinated against COVID-19 or not. He claims, however, that he did not take the vaccine and continues to defend using other medicines, including hydroxychloroquine, against the disease.
The White House expressed concern that the UNGA gathering could be a COVID-19 superspreader event.
‘We are concerned about the U.N. event being a superspreader event, and that we need to take all measures to ensure that it does not become a superspreader event,’ President Joe Biden‘s Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said during a press conference Friday.
On Monday, Bolsonaro met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who remarked before the bilateral meeting: ‘Thanks everybody, get AstraZeneca vaccines.’ He then told Bolsonaro he’s ‘had it twice’, referring to the shot. At that remark, Bolsonaro laughed and said ‘not me’, while pointing to himself
Bolsonaro walks outside his hotel to the United Nations building
World leaders began descending on New York City last week for the annual meeting, and Thomas-Greenfield notes they aren’t necessarily abiding by local vaccine requirements and other coronavirus-related restrictions.
President Joe Biden delivered his first address to the UN as president following Bolsonaro.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Friday she is worried the General Assembly gathering could turn into a COVID superspreader event
Last year’s UNGA meeting, held at the height of the pandemic, forced world leaders to go virtual.
This year, however, the meeting is being held in hybrid formatting, allowing heads of state to appear in-person or by video message.
Thomas-Greenfield said she sent a note urging diplomats and world leaders to send in videos to be played throughout the two-week event.
More than 100 presidents, prime ministers and other leaders are expected to give in-person speeches.
New York City has some of the most restrictive COVID-19 rules currently, after Mayor Bill de Blasio imposed earlier this summer a mandate that people need to be vaccinated – and show proof of vaccination – to enjoy indoor activities like dining, concerts, movies and convention centers.
UNGA is held indoors at the U.N. General Assembly Hall, which qualified as a convention center, according to a September 9 letter from de Blasio’s Office for International Affairs.
New York City’s health commissioner informed the General Assembly president-elect Abdulla Shahid that UNGA would be covered by a local law requiring proof of vaccination for indoor venues.
Already indicative of clashes is Bolsonaro, who says he is not vaccinated but has antibodies from a COVID-19 infection last year. His in-person attendance at UNGA defies the New York City vaccine requirement and the honor system it implemented for attendees.
There are already concerns over world leaders and diplomats not following NYC vaccination protocols, which requires people to be vaccinated for indoor events – including at convention centers
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia called the requirement ‘discriminatory’ and said he was ‘surprised and disappointed’ by the idea of requiring proof of vaccination to enter the General Assembly Hall.
Nebenzia claimed the rule is contrary to the 1947 agreement between the U.S. and the U.N. that establishes the world body’s international status.
After pushback on the requirement, Shahid walked back in a new letter on Thursday: ‘I would like to advise delegations that the honour system related to vaccinations … remains in place.’
Secretary General’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said Friday that the honor system means ‘by swiping a badge to enter the General Assembly Hall, delegates attest that they are fully vaccinated, that they have not tested positive for COVID‑19 in the last 10 days [and] have no symptoms.’
De Blasio announced New York City will open a pop-up testing and vaccination site at U.N. headquarters where attendees can get free COVID-19 tests and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The 2021 UNGA gathering kicked off last week and will conclude Tuesday.
Case rates of COVID-19 have been spiking in the U.S. as the Delta variant surges and more breakthrough cases emerge in vaccinated people
Deaths have also been on the rise as cases spike, reaching event some daily rates at the height of the pandemic in the winter