Brazil’s President Bolsonaro to attend UN debate unvaccinated despite Covid ‘honour system’

The United Nations is demanding world leaders arriving in New York for its General Assembly adhere to an “honour system” to attest they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

ut that mandate will be tested in the General Debate’s very first moments.

Jair Bolsonaro, who contracted the virus last year and as recently as this week said publicly that he does not need to be vaccinated because he has naturally acquired antibodies, is scheduled to kick off the 76th United Nations General Assembly’s General Debate tomorrow.

It is UN tradition that the president of Brazil speaks first, yet it is not clear how the body would enforce the mandate if Mr Bolsonaro enters the General Assembly Hall without first getting a shot. The UN did not respond to a request for comment. 

“Everyone who has contracted this virus are vaccinated, even in a way that’s more effective than the vaccine itself. So don’t argue it,” Mr Bolsonaro has said.

Brazil has the second-highest Covid-19 death toll in the world – second only to the United States – with nearly 590,000 deaths and 37pc of the population fully vaccinated, according to Our World In Data.

US President Joe Biden is set to arrive in New York City today before also giving a speech tomorrow at the opening of the General Debate.

The United States, which serves as host to the annual event at UN headquarters, initially tried dissuading as many participants as possible from coming. In a letter sent in August seen by media outlets, the US mission to the United Nations asked those who could to attend virtually to avoid turning the annual gathering into “a super-spreader event”.

More than 100 are expected to show up anyway.

Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general, said that the vaccine “honour system” means that “by swiping a badge to enter the (General Assembly) Hall, delegates attest that they are fully vaccinated, that they have not tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 10 days and have no symptoms”.

The pressure is on the UN as all New York City residents older than 12 must prove they have had at least one dose of a vaccine to attend large indoor events as of mid-August.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he had told António Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general, that this rule does apply to the General Assembly Hall, and the UN, while initially reluctant, agreed to align itself with the policy.

But some UN officials were not pleased with what they saw as an intrusion on the UN’s extraterritoriality.

The coronavirus rules at one of the top diplomatic events of the year underscore the vast disparities of the global vaccine roll-out.

While the United States has a plentiful supply of vaccines, nearly 57pc of the world has not received any doses, according to Our World In Data.

In many countries, the only available vaccines are those that have not been approved by US health authorities. 

© Washington Post

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