COVID-19 and indigenous peoples in Brazil: a neglected population and the importance of the vaccine

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Fernanda Clara da Silva and Danielle Correia Furtado, both third year medical students at Rio Grande do Norte State University (UERN) in Mossoró, Brazil. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

In 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health declared the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, with the emergence of a serious public health situation worldwide. In the Brazilian context, several measures of information, combat and prevention were raised, however, many times some populations are marginalized and that is why one must consider ethnicity in the COVID-19 approach, especially the brazilian indigenous population¹.

Historically, indigenous peoples have an epidemiological weakness and problems with access to health care. This becomes even more worrying with the recent pandemic, as there are obstacles to adopting basic hygiene and safety measures as well as to maintain social distance in these communities. Culturally, it is a delicate process and requires not only a trained multidisciplinary health team, but also otherness and empathy².

To improve this scenario, the Ministry of Health has developed strategies to improve care and one of the most recent is the creation of the Indigenous Primary Care Unit. Indigenous wards were also installed to treat COVID-19 and Indigenous Health Agents are trained and supplies and equipment are delivered to all health units². In addition, the vaccination plan against COVID-19 in Brazil of CoronaVac by Butantan Institute, included indigenous people as priority populations, which was an improvement.

From this, it is necessary to deconstruct the prejudice about this population in society in general so that they understand the importance of the priority of this group. In addition, it is also a national mission to take these vaccines to the most distant villages in order to achieve vaccination coverage, so that everyone has this chance. Another important point to be mentioned is that fake news and the anti-vaccine movement have generated denial and distrust of the vaccine’s effectiveness, which also needs to be combated. The Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (SESAI) has an important role to clarify doubts and show this group that the vaccine is effective and can save the lives of thousands of indigenous People³.

Based on this, it is necessary that these efforts go to this population, lacking in resources and neglected by the system, to change this. Thus, Brazil can be a world example in terms of access to health for the indigenous population in the fight against COVID-19 and help to reduce the deaths of a community marked by social and cultural marginalization. No more indigenous blood, it’s time to vaccinate and save them.


  1. Conselho Indigenista Missionário. “A pandemia do novo coronavírus e os povos indígenas.” Last modified 2020.
  1. Ministério da Saúde. “Saúde reforça assistência a indígenas durante pandemia do coronavírus.” Last modified Aug 12, 2020.,Sa%C3%BAde%20refor%C3%A7a%20assist%C3%AAncia%20a%20ind%C3%ADgenas%20durante%20pandemia%20do%20coronav%C3%ADrus,aos%2034%20DSEI%20do%20pa%C3%ADs.
  1. Diário de Pernambuco. “Fake news atrapalha vacinação contra Covid-19 em comunidades indígenas.” Last modified Jan 20, 2021.

About the author

Fernanda Clara da Silva and Danielle Correia Furtado are both third year medical students at Rio Grande do Norte State University (UERN) in Mossoró, Brazil. They are member of Local Board of the International Federation of Medical Student’s Associations (IFMSA). Both believe in a world in which education is capable of changing the world, especially inequalities.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Bertelsmann Stiftung @ European Business Summit 2014: Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TTIP) needs balanced approach

Blue bonds: What they are, and how they can help the oceans

Nearly two million Cameroonians face humanitarian emergency: UNICEF

Greece leaves EU aid program, gets last 15 billion euro

Improving coverage of mental health services

On eve of Gaza border protest anniversary, UN’s top humanitarian official for Palestine calls for calm

OECD: Rising employment overshadowed by unprecedented wage stagnation

What the car industry has done to help fight climate change – and what it needs to do next

In Tanzania visit, UNHCR official stresses freedom of choice is crucial for refugee returns

Mental health and suicide: when the alarm bells are faced with deaf ears

Hundreds of thousands migrants ready to cross the Mediterranean. Only a local matter?

How we can build our way out of the crisis

UN calls for funds to ease ‘deteriorating’ humanitarian situation in Gaza and West Bank

Eurozone business activity again on upwards path

ECB settles the bank resolution issue, makes banking union tangible

The European Youth raises their voices this week in Brussels at Yo!Fest 2015

Sustainable Infrastructure and Connectivity in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): a stimulating China-EU dialogue at European Business Summit 2018

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Changing the Face of Europe

EU labour mobility: Inconvenient truths for everybody

Venezuela: Competing US, Russia resolutions fail to pass in Security Council

Can We(esterners) ever understand (the) Chinese

This new initiative aims to make cybercrime harder – and riskier – to commit

Mobile health technology: Advances, Facilitations and Promotion of Autonomy

This man is sleeping out in the Davos cold to make a point about homelessness

The European Parliament floating over the South China Sea

This Kenyan company makes fuel from human poo

ECB with an iron hand disciplines the smaller Eurozone member states; latest victim: Greece

June infringements package: key decisions

MWC 2016 LIVE: Ericsson/Cisco partnership on track, insist execs

Launch of Pact for Youth: European Youth Forum calls for real business engagement

Protect women’s rights ‘before, during and after conflict’ UN chief tells high-level Security Council debate

How COVID-19 is making companies act for the long term

More women than ever are working in Hollywood, but men still dominate key roles

Libya: Heavy shelling and civilian deaths ‘blatant violation’ of international law – UN envoy

How each country’s share of global CO2 emissions changes over time

Spanish and Polish voters are crying out for an imminent European change while US urge now Germany to change route

Tax havens cost governments $200 billion a year. It’s time to change the way global tax works

The mental domain in times of a pandemic

COVID-19: Commission launches European team of scientific experts to strengthen EU coordination and medical response

‘Deeply concerned.’ WHO officials stress the need for continued vigilance – WHO briefing

6 things to know about coronavirus today, 1 April

Dangers of poor quality health care revealed ‘in all countries’: WHO report

EU strengthens cooperation with Ethiopia

Jean-Claude Juncker and Theresa May at last week’s EU Council. Source: EC Audiovisual Services / Copyright: European Union, 2017 / Photo: Etienne Ansotte

EU leaders open “Phase Two” of Brexit talks and warn Theresa May of tougher times

Circular Plastics Alliance: 100+ signatories commit to use 10 million tons of recycled plastic in new products by 2025

EU Commission says falling labour remuneration leads to deflation and damages growth prospects

The US and EU decisively oppose Erdogan’s plans for Turkey and beyond

JADE Spring Meeting Live Coverage: Entrepreneurial skills in the digital markets

UN working with both sides, after hidden tunnels confirmed along Lebanon-Israel ‘Blue Line’

MEPs propose measures to combat mobbing and sexual harassment

EU-UK relations: MEPs approve rules to ensure Eurotunnel safety and cooperation

UN cultural agency removes birthplace of Jesus from its list of heritage sites in danger

Achieving a European Education Area by 2025 and resetting education and training for the digital age

European Youth Capital 2018 : Cascais

This chart shows the fall in coal-power plants being planned around the world

UN agency ramps up effort to counter growing nuclear threat from cyberspace


A Sting Exclusive: “Education in Europe, fostering skills development inside and outside the school system”

State aid: Commission approves €500 million Greek scheme to support the self-employed affected by coronavirus outbreak

IMF’s Lagarde: Ukraine must fight corruption

MEPs approve boost to workers’ rights in the gig economy

More Stings?


Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s