Fact Check

Did Brazil's President Bolsonaro Imply COVID-19 Vaccine Turns People Into Crocodiles?

He also said he would not get vaccinated while launching a mass inoculation program in Brazil.

Published Dec. 22, 2020

(Brasília - DF, 14/01/2020) Presidente da República, Jair Bolsonaro fala com a imprensa após reunião com  Ministro Paulo Guedes, sobre reajuste do salário mínimo..Foto: Isac Nóbrega/PR (Palácio do Planalto/Wikimedia Commons. )
Image courtesy of Palácio do Planalto/Wikimedia Commons.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said, “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.”

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Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is known for his controversial statements, and his most recent target was the COVID-19 vaccine. The right-leaning leader was skeptical of the virus since it first emerged in late 2019, and has gone so far as to call it “a little flu.” In December 2020, as Brazil began a mass COVID-19 inoculation program, Bolsonaro insisted he, personally, would not get vaccinated.

Moreover, he suggested that the vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech could turn people into crocodiles and make women grow beards. It's unclear if he was being sarcastic, but here are his exact words:

"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 [...] 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."

Bolsonaro caught the virus in July 2020 and recovered in three weeks. On his insistence against being vaccinated, Bolsonaro added, “Some people say 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?"

Brazil has recorded more than 7.1 million cases and almost 185,000 deaths from COVID-19.

We rate this claim as a “Correct Attribution.”

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.

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