Brazil faces the most critical moment of the COVID-19 pandemic since its beginning in 2020. Death tolls soared to new highs – with more than 300,000 deaths by the end of March 2021 – and the National Public Health System (SUS, Sistema Único de Saúde) is at the brink of a collapse. Vaccine production and distribution were systematically sabotaged throughout 2020 by President Bolsonaro’s Ministry of Health. He appointed his fourth health minister in the pandemic period after a succession of disastrous events and complete mismanagement of the health system at federal level. The president is the world’s best example of a political leader who discourages social distancing, participates in political demonstrations against democratic institutions and stimulates the usage of medicines without a scientific basis, such as chloroquine and ivermectin. Scholars are now contending that President Bolsonaro and governmental officers have an intention of deliberate virus propagation aiming at herd immunity. With all the negative political and social consequences of that scenario, the production of fake news on COVID-19 and vaccination exploded in Brazil.
Fake News and COVID-19
Brazil is the second country in the globe in numbers of users in the digital community engaged with social media, according to a recent report of the Global WebIndex. It also has the fourth largest national population in the world with internet access (considering fixed broadband and mobile services), according to the most recent figures published by the International Telecommunications Union in 2020.
The fabrication and dissemination of fake news has also aggravated the numbers of infections and deaths. False information on Covid19 and vaccination have contributed to decrease the knowledge on the lethality of the disease and the vaccine’s efficacy, creating hurdles to restraining the pandemic. In May 2020, an Avaaz research showed that seven out of ten Brazilian internet users – around 100 million people – believe in at least one fake news story on coronavirus. According to the same study, between five and six out of ten internet users engaged with fake news associated with COVID-19 and discredited the severity of the disease.Read the rest of this entry…