Covid Live News: UK Battles New Virus Variant As Omicron Is Detected Around The World – As It Happened

Last June, as Covid-19 cases were surging across Brazil, Camila Basto waited at a São Paulo hospital to find out what was wrong with her 9-year-old daughter, Manuela.

Manuela had a fever that reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), spots all over her skin and a lump growing out of her neck. Her kidneys didn't function for nearly two days. "Her heart almost stopped," Basto said.

After three days, Manuela was diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a rare condition that affects children who have been infected by Covid-19.

Manuela recovered from Covid, but its side effects have left a lasting impression on her heart: She now has arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat.

"It is so horrible. She was a healthy child, with no underlying conditions," Basto said.

Manuela survived Covid. But hundreds of other children in Brazil haven't.

Between March 2020 and November 2021, 308 children aged between 5 and 11 years old have died from Covid-19, according to data from the Ministry of Health.

Now, as a nationwide Covid-19 vaccination campaign for children aged 5-11 is underway, it's providing relief to many Brazilian parents like Basto, who says that it will give her "peace of mind."

But the vaccine couldn't come fast enough for some parents, who have been waiting nearly a month to take their kids to get the shot.

The reason? Mainly Brazil's own President Jair Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro, who says he is unvaccinated, has been widely criticized at home and abroad for playing down the severity of the virus, including discouraging others to get vaccinated, despite Brazil battling one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world.

The president's opposition to child vaccination is the latest installment in this crusade.

On Dec. 16, 2021, Brazil's regulatory agency Anvisa greenlit the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for children. That same day, Bolsonaro called the decision "unbelievable" and threatened to release the names of Anvisa staff involved in the decision.

And just days before the rollout got underway, Bolsonaro falsely claimed in an interview to TV Nova Nordeste that no children have died of Covid, before later saying in the same interview that "some children must have died, but they must have some comorbidity."

Perhaps those words come as no surprise: Last June, while speaking at an event, an unmasked Bolsonaro asked a child to remove her mask and also took off another child's mask.

Bolsonaro has also said that he will not vaccinate his 11-year-old daughter, saying that "children have not been dying in a way that justifies a vaccine."

However, "these vaccines offer really good protection, with even greater protection to children than to adults, and with excellent safety," pediatrician and infectious disease expert Dr. Marcelo Otsuka told CNN.

"All studies suggest that vaccines are safe and have very good efficiency for the 5-11 age group," he said.

But Bolsonaro and his administration are largely undeterred by scientific evidence, with their rhetoric instead delaying the rollout.

Bolsonaro's anti-vaccine rhetoric is not necessarily aimed to stop Brazilian kids from getting the shot, but rather part of his longstanding campaign to recruit and play up to his far-right base ahead of the October 2022 elections, according to Esther Solano, professor of international relations at São Paulo University.

"Bolsonaro is mobilizing his radical supporters in thinking about the next elections," Solano said.

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Source : https://www.cnn.com/world/live-news/omicron-variant-coronavirus-news-01-19-22/index.html

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