Millions have lingering questions about the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – and vaccines in general – but one South American leader may be the king of the anti-vaxxer world.
In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro has read the warning label on the new coronavirus vaccine and concluded that the dangers could include people turning into crocodiles, people becoming superhuman and women growing beards.
“In the Pfizer contract it’s very clear: ‘We’re not responsible for any side effects,’” Bolsonaro said Thursday, according to Agence France-Presse. “If you become superhuman, if a woman starts to grow a beard or if a man starts to speak with an effeminate voice, they will not have anything to do with it.”
Bolsonaro’s country ranks second, behind only the United States, for the world’s highest number of COVID-19 deaths.
On Wednesday, Bolsonaro said the vaccine would be free but not required for the population. A day later, however, Brazil’s Supreme Court contradicted him, ruling the vaccine obligatory.
The court further said it could not be “forced” on people, but those people could face fines and bans from some public places.
Bolsonaro has been skeptical of the coronavirus since it first emerged late last year, branding it “a little flu.” He stressed that he would not personally be vaccinated.
“If you turn into a crocodile, it’s your problem,” Bolsonaro said on Thursday.
“Some people say I’m giving a bad example. 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?”
There is no real evidence that recovering from COVID-19 confers long-lasting immunity. Although antibodies and some level of immunity are likely to be present following recovery, multiple cases of reinfection have been documented.