'A new war?' President's extreme outburst about Covid origins

·2-min read

Brazil's president has seemingly taken aim at China, trying to cast doubt on the origins of Covid-19.

On Wednesday, Jair Bolsonaro floated the idea the novel coronavirus could have been manufactured in a laboratory.

Though, he didn't mention China by name, he questioned whether there is a "new war".

"It's a new virus. Nobody knows whether it was born in a laboratory or because a human ate some animal they shouldn't have," he said.

"But the military knows all about chemical, biological and radiological warfare. Could we be fighting a new war? I wonder. Which country's GDP has grown the most?"

Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro (right) seemingly took aim at China, questioning the origins of Covid-19. Source: AP
Jair Bolsonaro (R), pictured with China's President Xi Jinping, made some pointed remarks about the orgins of Covid. Source: AP

The virus originated in China and spread throughout the world, many countries went into lockdown and suffered financially — China is the only G20 economy to grow last year.

China has denied the theory the virus was born in a lab and the World Health Organisation concluded it was "extremely unlikely" the virus originated in a lab.

Though, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he did not believe the assessment was "extensive enough".

"This requires further investigation, potentially with additional missions involving specialist experts, which I am ready to deploy," he said back in March.

According to The Rio Times, when questioned about his remarks, the far-right leader denied he implied the virus was created in a lab.

Just this year, Bolsonaro replaced former foreign minister Ernesto Araujo, who had denounced "Maoist China" and its plan for "world domination," with career diplomat Carlos Franca.

The move was largely seen as a way for Brazil to mend ties with China.

Over 415,000 people have died of Covid-19 in Brazil. The country has reported over 15 million cases since the start of the pandemic.

Bolsonaro was opposed to pandemic measures, which were observed across the globe, like lockdown, as they would hurt Brazil's economy.

He repeatedly ignored calls of health experts to wear masks.

He downplayed the severity of Covid-19, calling it the "little flu" before catching Covid-19 last year.

In April, Brazil's Senate launched a probe into Bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic.

The President of the Republic, Jair Bolsonaro, this Wednesday, May 5, during the opening ceremony of the week of communications held at the Planalto Palace.
Jair Bolsonaro downplayed the severity of Covid-19 and then contracted Covid-19. Source: AP

Coronavirus pushed Brazil's medical system to the limit in parts of the country, partly due to the so-called P1 variant, which many medical experts believe is particularly infectious and deadly.

Brazil's ex-health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta told a Senate inquiry on Tuesday that Bolsonaro repeatedly ignored warnings that his response to the coronavirus pandemic risked causing the health system to collapse.

With Associated Press, AAP and AFP

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