Brian Winter, vice president of AS/COA, spoke to Lorraine Cáceres of Univision News about Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's approach to the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil. Asked about U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban for Brazilian citizens, Winter said it is ironic because, "The Bolsonaro government is the one in the world that has arguably most closely copied the approach of the Trump administration by downplaying the gravity of the pandemic."
"While it’s true that Bolsonaro has been playing this down, a lot of power in Brazil does reside with these governors and mayors in places like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, where they have instituted quarantines and mandated social distancing measures and shut down public transportation," Winter said. "I think it’s safe to assume that without those measures, the tragedy would’ve been much bigger."
He noted that Brazil's death toll is much higher than in countries like Argentina, Colombia, and Peru, where messaging from their respective presidents has been stricter. Winter explained that the United States is testing for the coronavirus at a "relatively low level by global standards," and that there are indications that Brazil's testing rate may be even lower. Winter emphasized that many uncertainties remain about why the virus hits harder in some places than it does in others and what it will take to ultimately eradicate it.
"The only thing we really seem to know for sure is that social distancing works," Winter said. "At least in the U.S., we’ve seen some modest progress. It may not be enough, but at least the curve of deaths is pointing down. But that’s not even true in Brazil."