THE Brazilian Government has been accused of deliberately allowing coronavirus to spread as the country's death toll hit over 222,000.

Authorities were "intentionally" trying to infect the public with Covid, a study by a top university has claimed.

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The Centre for Research in Public Health Law at the University of Sao Paulo and Conectas Direitos Humanos – one of the most respected justice organisations of Latin America – have been collecting and analysing the data since March 2020.

The document obtained by Spanish newspaper El Pais states: "Our research has revealed the existence of an institutional strategy, promoted by the Federal Government, spearheaded by the Presidency of the Republic, that intentionally seeks to ensure the spread of the virus."

It comes 10 months after President Jair Bolsonaro flippantly dismissed the deadly bug as "just a flu."

By analysing the data, even where it may be incomplete, the researchers found there was "the commitment and efficiency of the Federal Government's work in favour of the extensive spread of the virus in Brazilian territory."

And they argue that spreading the virus deliberately came with the goal "of resuming economic activity as quickly as possible and at any cost".

Brazil now has the second-highest Covid death toll in the world – with the number of fatalities nearly reaching a quarter of a million.

While the Brazilian government's virus control strategy was a "political choice made by the heads of government prioritizing economic protection," the researchers concluded that this was in fact an "unprecedented violation of the right to life and the right to health for Brazilians."

'SPREAD THE VIRUS'

Co-ordinated by Deisy Ventura, a Professor in Global Health Ethics and one of the most respected legal scholars in Brazil, the findings show that the country's initial Covid contingency plan drawn up last February made no reference to "human rights, ethics, or fundamental freedoms" .

As well as looking at federal acts during the pandemic, the research also studies how Brazil's political figures used propaganda and fake news "with the purpose of discrediting health authorities."

In one example from March 17 last year, President Jair Bolsonaro said: "The wrong part in all of it is the hysteria, it’s acting like this is the end of the world.

"A nation like Brazil will only get rid of it when a certain number of people become infected and create antibodies."

When asked to comment on the fact Brazil's death toll was exceeding China's, Mr Bolsonaro said on April 28: "So what? Sorry about that, what do you want me to do?

"My last name may be Messias (Messiah), but I work no miracles."

And on November 10 last year, at an official ceremony, the President said: “Everything right now is pandemic this, pandemic that. Come on, this has to stop.

"I am sorry for the dead, I am. We’ll all die one day. There’s no use trying to escape it, to escape reality. We can no longer be a country of sissies, come on."

The research even goes as far to claim the propaganda helped promote protests and riots against public health measures – which were needed to stop the spread of coronavirus in Brazil.

Spanish newspaper El Pais also weighed in, saying the report has caused shock and unease "because it systematises the explicit production of evils put in action by Bolsonaro and his government over almost a year of the pandemic."

At least three requests have been sent to the International Criminal Court linking genocide and other crimes against humanity to the actions of Bolsonaro and members of his government during the pandemic, according to the newspaper.

And there have been over 60 requests to impeach the president made to the Chamber of Deputies.

This comes as Brazil saw Covid deaths double as its hospitals run out of oxygen while a new strain of the deadly virus was detected in the Amazon.

Health officials and scientists have suggested the mutation could be behind the surge over the last three weeks which has seen daily records set for cases and deaths.

Hospitals in the country are being overwhelmed as Brazil has recorded the second-highest death tally in the world with 222,775.

It is feared the new strain could be fueling the spread as Brazilian scientists believe the Covid mutation could increase the rate of transmission – like the variants detected in South Africa and the UK.

The variant is thought to have emerged in the northern jungle state of Amazonas and there are fears it could have hit the UK.

Doctors and nurses have pleaded for help as hospitals are running out of oxygen and refrigerator trucks are wheeled in to store bodies.

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