Brazil’s COVID-19 Blues: Pressured To Expand HCQ use, Health Minister Quits

Dr. Nelson Teich (File Image) - Sakshi Post

SAO PAULO: Just a month into the job, Brazil's health minister Dr. Nelson Teich resigned on Friday marking a sign of upheaval in the nation's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. He quit a day after President Jair Bolsonaro stepped up pressure on him to expand use of the antimalarial drug chloroquine or HCQ in treating COVID-19 patients.

“Life is made up of choices and today I decided to leave,” Teich told journalists in capital Brasilia. However, he did not explain why he left the job and refused to answer questions.

Gen. Eduardo Pazuello will be the interim minister until the President chooses a replacement. He holds no prior health experience until he became the Health Ministry's No. 2 official in April.

Teich, an oncologist and health care consultant, took the job April 17. He was faced with the task of aligning the health ministry's action with that of the President's view that the economy must not be risked by putting restrictions to control coronavirus.

Teich's predecessor, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, also had rejected the use of choloquine. US President Donald Trump had called for the use of the medicine to treat COVID-19.

There are over 13,000 deaths in the country, according to Brazil's official figures, although experts note that the number could be high significantly as the country is not tested enough.

According to media reports, Teich's ability to do his job was weakened by the appointment of dozens of military personnel to jobs in the ministry.

Meanwhile, after Teich's resignation was announced, pot-banging protests were heard in different regions of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

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