Jair Bolsonaro has always been a favourite child of social media. This year, the Brazilian president has been avidly been a subject of memes on social media due to his chaotic response to the pandemic despite being the head of a state, which has already crossed the seven million mark of COVID infections amongst its 212 million population.
A photo of the president, while recovering from COVID-19 earlier this year, where he appeared to offer hydroxychloroquine to one of the emu-like birds in his garden had garnered funny memes on social media.
Not very lately, Bolsonaro's attack on the recently launched coronavirus vaccines, especially the one developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, once again triggered a series of verbal spat on social media when he suggested it could turn people into crocodiles or bearded ladies.
"In the Pfizer contract, it's very clear: 'We're not responsible for any side effects.' If you turn into a crocodile, it's your problem," Bolsonaro said on Thursday, reminding everyone that the company has denied taking responsibility for any side effects caused by the vaccine.
Its Pfizer's showtime
Today, the entire world is relying on the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. As per media reports, the vaccine has been undergoing tests in Brazil for weeks and is already being used in the United States and the United Kingdom.
But still the far-right leader, who has been sceptical of the coronavirus since it first emerged late last year, branding it "a little flu" this week insisted that he would not undergo vaccination, even while launching the country's mass inoculation program.
"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," he said, referring to the drug manufacturers.
And this is the reason why Bolsonaro, while launching the immunisation campaign on Wednesday, would not be 'forcing' it upon the people. Although ruling the vaccine to be obligatory, the Supreme Court has also notified that it could not be "forced" on people.
That means authorities can fine people for not being vaccinated and ban them from certain public spaces, but not force them to take it.
Bolsonaro's opposition to immunization
According to media reports, Bolsonaro said that once a vaccine has been certified by Brazil's regulatory agency Anvisa, "it will be available for everyone that wants it. But me, I won't get vaccinated."
"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?" Agence France-Presse quoted him as saying.
There have been a small number of cases of apparent reinfection although there is no certainty over whether a person can be reinfected or how long immunity lasts.
Bolsonaro had himself caught the virus in July but recovered within three weeks.
At present, Brazil is in the middle of a second wave of coronavirus infections after reaching a peak in June. Since August, the tally of infections across the South American country had been dropping but the graph once again changed in November.
As per local media reports, Brazil last Thursday surpassed 1,000 daily deaths from COVID-19 for the first time since September.
Amidst all, health experts have already criticized the country's immunization program for being late and chaotic.