RIO DE JANEIRO, Jun 25 (.) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, under increasing pressure to explain his role in a vaccine deal with Indian firm Bharat Biotech, said on Friday there were no irregularities in the contract. to achieve Covaxin doses against COVID-19.
“There is nothing wrong with the Covaxin contract, there is no price premium,” he told a press conference in the interior of Sao Paulo.
The president, who was elected as the leader of an anti-bribery platform, added that his enemies are trying to tarnish his government with unfounded accusations of corruption.
“I am incorruptible,” he said.
Bolsonaro’s comments came before the testimony in the Senate of two brothers who say they personally communicated to the president their concern about the agreement.
The hearing, scheduled for 2:00 p.m. local time (1700 GMT), is the most anticipated event so far in a high-profile Senate investigation into the government’s management of the pandemic, which has killed half a million people in Brazil. .
Luís Ricardo Miranda, an official with the Ministry of Health, said this week that he told Bolsonaro about the irregularities in the agreement.
Prosecutors and federal lawmakers are investigating the contract to see why the government struck a quick deal with Bharat after ignoring offers of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at a lower price. Miranda told prosecutors that he was pressured by Alex Lial Marinho, an advisor to one of Bolsonaro’s closest allies, former Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello. Miranda’s account was supported by her brother, Federal Congressman Luis Miranda.
The accusations raise uncomfortable questions for Bolsonaro and Pazuello, who face criminal and civil investigations for their handling of the pandemic when he was minister.
On Thursday, Bolsonaro said Brazil never paid for or received any doses of the Covaxin vaccine and vowed to take action if any corruption was discovered in its government.
(Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; written by Gabriel Stargardter; edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)