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‘Vaccine can turn people into crocodiles’

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has launched an attack on coronavirus vaccines, even suggesting that the one developed by Pfizer-BioNTech could turn people into crocodiles or bearded ladies.

The far-right leader has been sceptical of the coronavirus since it first emerged late last year, branding it “a little flu”. This week he insisted he would not be vaccinated, even while launching the country’s mass innoculation program.

“In the Pfizer contract it’s very clear: ‘We’re not responsible for any side effects.’ If you turn into a crocodile, it’s your problem,” Mr. Bolsonaro said on Thursday.

That vaccine has been undergoing tests in Brazil for weeks and is already being used in the United States and Britain.

“If you become superhuman, if a woman starts to grow a beard or if a man starts to speak with an effeminate voice, they will not have anything to do with it,” he said, referring to the drug manufacturers.

When launching the immunisation campaign on Wednesday, Mr. Bolsonaro also said it would be free but not compulsory. But the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the vaccine was obligatory, although could not be “forced” on people.

That means authorities can fine people for not being vaccinated and ban them from certain public spaces, but not force them to take it.

Brazil has recorded more than 7.1 million cases and almost 1,85,000 deaths from COVID-19.

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