Things That Matter

Brazil Just Passed a Bill That Will Allow Rich Corporations to ‘Skip the Line’ for COVID-19 Vaccines

Photo via Getty Images

Currently, Brazil is one of the world’s epicenters of the coronavirus. In March 2021, Brazil saw 66,573 COVID-19-related deaths. That means 1 in every 3 COVID-related deaths worldwide are occuring in Brazil.

And it doesn’t appear that the numbers will be slowing down anytime soon. While the United States is making strides in their COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Brazil is lagging far behind. And things are about to get a lot more complicated.

On Tuesday, Brazil passed a bill that would allow corporations to buy up as many vaccines as they can get their hands on, and privately distribute them to their employees first.

Elected officials in Brazil are arguing that the country has become so desperate to vaccinate its citizens, that it doesn’t matter who gets the vaccines first at this point.

The country, once renowned for having one of the most robust and efficient public vaccine-distribution programs in the world, has failed to make strides towards getting their citizens vaccinated.

“We are at war,” said the leader of the chamber, Arthur Lira. “And in war, anything goes to save lives.” We don’t know about you, but usually when it comes to war, we’ve heard that soldiers prioritize the health and safety of young, the weak, and the elderly before their own? We digress…

Brazil’s plan to privatize the vaccine rollout has brought up moral and ethical questions.

From the beginning, the World Health Organization has asked countries to first prioritize essential health workers and then high-risk populations when distributing the vaccine.

Anything other than that would promote a pay-to-play schemes in which the rich could protect their lives before poor people could. And poor people are more likely to die from COVID-19 in the first place.

As Alison Buttenheim, behavioral scientist and expert on the equitable allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine said, vaccine distribution should not “exacerbate disparities and inequities in health care,” but instead address them. Brazil’s vaccine rollout plan would fail to do any of the above.

If countries begin to allow the rich to prioritize their own interests during the vaccine rollout, the consequences could be disastrous.

In a time when the world is stoked by fear and uncertainty, the worst thing that can happen is for rich companies to exacerbate inequalities by effectively choosing who lives or dies.

As the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization said at the beginning of the global vaccine rollout: “any distribution of vaccines should advance human well-being and honor global equity, national equity, reciprocity, and legitimacy.”

Poor Brazilians should not be left to fend for themselves against COVID-19 simply because they are poor.

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AOC Teams Up With NYC Mayor And Assembly Member To Get The Vacunabus To Those Who Need It

Things That Matter

AOC Teams Up With NYC Mayor And Assembly Member To Get The Vacunabus To Those Who Need It

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The Covid vaccine has proven to be the most important tool in getting life back to normal. Yet, access to the vaccine is not the same for everyone across the board. Some community don’t have the same access as others and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is changing that in New York City.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is part of the team that has created the Vacunabus in NYC.

The Vacunabus is exactly what you think it is. The mobile vaccination center is going into hard-to-reach communities to create a more equitable distribution of the life-saving vaccine. Right now, the bus is focusing on a specific group of people that need the vaccine: food service workers and undocumented immigrants. After that, the bus will focus on the homeless community in an attempt to vaccinate as many people as possible.

“There’s 500,000 New Yorkers who work in restaurants and we want to find all of them who want to be vaccinated and make it easier for them,” Sean Feeney, co-founder of Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants — or ROAR, told CBS NewYork.

The mobile vaccine centers are an expansion of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first vaccination bus.

As American yearn for their lives to get back to normal, it is imperative that the vaccine rollout include as many people as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently relaxed mask restrictions for all fully vaccinated people. If you are fully vaccinated, you can now participate in indoor and outdoor activities in groups with no masks and no physical distancing. It is a sign that that vaccine is the only way for life to get back to normal. It is welcomed news after more than a year of physical distancing and mask-wearing.

“We have all longed for this moment,” Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a news conference Thursday. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

It’s been a long quarantine but as the vaccine continues to roll out, we can all start to breathe a cautious sigh of relief. We are almost there.

READ: Ted Cruz Calls Fellow Senator ‘Complete Ass’ For Wearing Masks Indoors Per Health Guidelines

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The Last Wild Macaw In Rio de Janeiro Visits the Zoo Everyday Because She’s Lonely

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The Last Wild Macaw In Rio de Janeiro Visits the Zoo Everyday Because She’s Lonely

via Getty Images

If you’re the type of person who constantly complains about being single, this story will most definitely resonate with you. In Rio de Janeiro, there is a macaw that experts believe is the only free macaw currently living in Rio. To make things more tragic, this Brazilian macaw is so lonely that she makes daily visits to her fellow macaws at Rio de Janeiro’s zoo.

Every morning, a blue-and-yellow macaw (affectionately named Juliet) flies into the enclosure where the zoo’s macaw lives and canoodles with her fellow species.

According to the staff of the Rio de Janeiro Zoo, Juliet has been making daily visits to the enclosure for 20 years. The last time a blue-and-yellow macaw like Juliet was seen in the wild was in 1818. So it’s safe to say she’s fiending for some company. The average lifespan of a macaw is 35-years, which means Juliet has spent the majority of her life as a single lady.

“They’re social birds, and that means they don’t like to live alone, whether in nature or captivity. They need company,” said Neiva Guedes, president of the Hyacinth Macaw Institute, to the Associated Press. “[Juliet] very probably feels lonely, and for that reason goes to the enclosure to communicate and interact.”

Luckily for Juliet, the Rio de Janeiro Zoo is launching a program called Refauna that is aiming to breed and reintroduce blue-and-yellow macaws back into the wild.

The Refauna program plans to breed 20 macaw chicks and give them “training” on “forest food sources, the peril of predators and avoidance of power lines.” Once they’re thoroughly educated, workers will release the birds into the Tijuca Forest National Park to live full, free lives. Some people are hoping that with so many macaws flying free out in the open, Juliet will feel less lonely.

But some animal experts are warning the general public not to feel too bad for Juliet. “We don’t want to project human feelings,” biologist Angelita Capobianco told AP News. I look at the animal, and see an animal at ease.” That’s nice to hear. We love a strong, independent woman who doesn’t need a man to thrive.

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