The Brazilian Supreme Court has ordered an investigation into President Jair Bolsonaro’s false comments linking COVID-19 vaccines with the development of AIDS.
The far-right leader made the allegations speaking during his weekly address to the nation on Oct. 21, according to the Brazilian news portal G1.
“Official reports from the U.K. government suggest that fully vaccinated people ... are developing acquired immunodeficiency syndrome much faster than anticipated,” Bolsonaro said in the broadcast, which was later removed from YouTube, Facebook and Instagram for violation of rules.
The suggestion is false, and there’s no record of any official reports from the U.K.
On Friday, Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes instructed the country’s top prosecutor, Augusto Aras, to look into the matter, as the result of a pandemic inquiry conducted by the Senate, known as CPI.
More than 615,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Brazil, making the country the world’s second-highest death count, after the United States.
Bolsonaro, an unapologetic coronavirus-skeptic — and hydroxychloroquine-believer — has famously described COVID-19 as a “little flu,” and has angered critics in Brazil and abroad for downplaying the seriousness of the virus.
Earlier this year, when speaking with supporters in the midwestern state of Goias, he told a crowd to “quit all the fussing and whining” about the pandemic.
The 66-year-old former army captain, who’s not vaccinated, is also a vocal critic of coronavirus measures adopted by state and city leaders. Since the first months of the crisis, he has aggressively pushed for the reopening of the country’s economy — even against members of his own Cabinet.
In October, after months of investigation, the Senate committee found that Bolsonaro committed nine crimes related to the country’s disastrous handling of the health crisis caused by COVID-19 — including crimes against humanity.
“The president has committed several crimes and will pay for them all,” CPI