Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is urging U.S. President Joe Biden to call an emergency G20 summit on the coronavirus pandemic to ensure a more equitable global distribution of vaccines.
"I couldn't ask that of Trump, but Biden is a breath for democracy in the world," Lula told CNN's Christiane Amanpour during an exclusive interview set to air in full on Thursday.
Speaking from São Paulo, Lula noted that the U.S. has an excess supply of vaccines and suggested that the surplus "could be donated to Brazil, or other countries even poorer than Brazil that cannot afford to buy the vaccine."
"The responsibility of international leaders is tremendous so I'm asking President Biden to do that because I don't believe in my government," added Lula, who just last week denounced Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro for his catastrophic mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing economic crisis in the hard-hit South American country.
EXCLUSIVE: Fmr. Brazilian President @LulaOficial tells me he is urging President Biden to call a G20 meeting to ensure proper vaccine distribution worldwide: “Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine!” He adds: “I couldn’t ask that [of] Trump, but Biden is a breath for democracy in the world.” pic.twitter.com/AzVr59MaFw— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) March 17, 2021
Lula's speech last week—the first since a Brazilian Supreme Court justice annulled several criminal convictions against the former president, restoring his political rights—sparked rumors of a potential bid to unseat Bolsonaro.
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During his interview Wednesday, Lula did not rule out running in the country's presidential election next year.
"When it comes the moment to run for the elections, and if my party and the other allied parties understand that I could be the candidate, and if I'm well and my health with the energy and power that I have today, I can reassure you that I will not deny that invitation, but I don't want to talk about that," Lula told Amanpour. "That's not my main priority. My main priority now is to save this country."
Covid-19 has claimed the lives of nearly 285,000 people in Brazil—the world's second-highest death toll, after the U.S., over the past year. Earlier this month, following consecutive days of record deaths that have pushed the country's hospital system "to the brink of collapse," Bolsonaro told citizens to stop "whining."
Meanwhile, the U.S.—in addition to hoarding vaccines and refusing to donate them to countries in need—is one of a handful of rich nations that is blocking a widely supported India and South Africa-led proposal to share vaccine recipes and boost global production by temporarily waiving an intellectual property rights agreement at the World Trade Organization.
In a video released last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said that "it is unconscionable that amid a global health crisis, huge multibillion dollar pharmaceutical companies continue to prioritize profits by protecting their monopolies and driving up prices rather than prioritizing the lives of people everywhere, including in the Global South."