As some countries began widespread vaccination programs, Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro claimed that one of the COVID-19 vaccines could turn humans into crocodiles or result in women growing a beard.
The Brazilian president, who earlier this year branded the pandemic as "a little flu", made it clear this week that he would not receive a vaccine even though his administration is launching the country's mass inoculation program.
Brazil is the country with the world's third-highest Coronavirus cases.
He once said that Brazil's regulatory body Anvisa had certified a COVID-19 vaccine and added that "it will be available for everyone that wants it. But me, I won't get vaccinated".
But on Thursday, December 17, Bolsonaro criticized the vaccine developed by the US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. "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," he said.
Bizarre Comments about COVID-19 Vaccine
While many conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have already begun spreading fake claims about vaccines, Bolsonaro's recent comments are the latest addition to such rumors. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been undergoing clinical trials in south American countries for weeks and it has already been administrated to some people in the US, as well as in the UK.
"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," said Bolsonaro, while referring to vaccine manufacturers.
Bolsonaro added that some people would say he is giving a bad example. "I'm giving a bad example. But to the imbeciles, to the idiots that say this, I tell them I've already caught the virus, I have the antibodies, so why get vaccinated?"
The Brazilian President launched the COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Wednesday, December 16, and announced that the jab would be free but it is not compulsory for citizens. However, on Thursday the Supreme Court of Brazil ruled that the vaccine was obligatory, but people cannot be "forced" to take the shot. So, it means that authorities can fine people for not taking the vaccine in Brazil and ban them from some public places, but cannot force them to take it.
Bolsonaro is not the only person who made such bizarre comments about a vaccine. Russia also once started a campaign to discredit Oxford-AstraZeneca's Coronavirus vaccine.
On social media platforms, Russia deliberately shared posts claiming that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will turn humans into monkeys. But UK's foreign affairs minister Dominic Raab blasted Moscow saying, "It's a shabby piece of disinformation." When the propaganda posts started to appear on social media, Raab said that this incident "is very serious because it is an attempt to disrupt the attempts to find a safe vaccine".