Brazil Pressure Grows on Gov’t Over Data Debacle

On 8 June, supreme court (STF) justice Alexandre de Moraes ordered the Brazilian government to go back to disclosing the country’s epidemiological data on the coronavirus (Covid-19) the way it had been doing up until 4 June.
Brazil coronavirus Data Debacle

Analysis:

The government led by President Jair Bolsonaro’s decision to change the way that it discloses, presents and counts coronavirus cases and fatalities has caused a widespread backlash in Brazil. While other public institutions and media organisations have stepped up to provide Covid-19 figures as transparently as possible, the federal government faces strong condemnation for the confusion and controversy that its new methodology is causing, and pressure to backtrack.

  • Moraes was responding to a petition filed by three opposition parties the previous day. Highlighting the importance of reliable data collected according to international guidelines to help design policies to fight the coronavirus pandemic, Moraes ordered the federal health ministry to go back to its previous methodology, when it presented cumulative totals of Covid-19 cases and fatalities.
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also urged Brazil to keep sharing Covid-19 data consistently and transparently. Speaking to reporters yesterday, the director of the WHO’s health emergencies programme, Michael Ryan, stressed that sharing information was vital for Brazilians’ safety. “We trust that any confusions that may exist at the moment can be resolved”, Ryan said.
  • Yesterday, six major Brazilian news outlets announced that they had joined forces to release Covid-19 data daily. G1, O Globo, Extra, O Estado de São Paulo, Folha de São Paulo and UOL will work with the 27 state health secretariats to publish consolidated data at 8:00pm daily.
  • Meanwhile, the congressional committee that was created to monitor the coronavirus public health emergency will now use data collected directly from state health secretariats, the president of the senate, Davi Alcolumbre, confirmed yesterday.
  • The discredited federal health ministry released two statements yesterday, explaining the revision of Covid-19 figures published on 7 June, and “clarifying” supposedly misleading comments made by national broadcaster TV Globo on the new methodology during its 'Jornal Nacional' prime-time evening news bulletin.

Looking Ahead:

Interim health minister Eduardo Pazuello will appear before the chamber of deputies’ coronavirus external committee today (9 June) to explain the data discrepancies and lack of transparency.

In brief: Investments plunge in Brazil in April

* The government-led Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada (Ipea) in Brazil has released the April figures for its indicator of gross fixed capital formation, according to which investment levels fell by 27.5% month-on-month in April (seasonally adjusted) and 32.8% year-on-year. Following on from a monthly slide in investments in March, this means that investment levels decreased 11% in the three months to April, compared with the previous rolling quarter. Investment levels in Brazil have accumulated falls of 5.2% in the first four months of 2020. “Plunging investment” is cited by the World Bank (WB) as one of four main reasons for the shrinking of Brazil’s economy this year, which the WB now predicts will contract by 8%. 

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