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Brazil Opens Criminal Probe Into President Over Indian Vaccine Deal

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SÃO PAULO—Brazil’s Supreme Court authorized prosecutors to investigate President Jair Bolsonaro over accusations he ignored alleged irregularities in his government’s procurement process to buy India’s Covaxin Covid-19 vaccine.

The investigation comes as the former army captain, who is planning to run for re-election next year, already faces criticism from public health experts for his handling of Covid-19, which has killed more than a half a million Brazilians.

However, political scientists said Mr. Bolsonaro still holds enough support in Congress to quash any legal proceedings against him. In Brazil, criminal charges against a president that would emanate from an investigation can only proceed with the backing of two-thirds of the lower house of Congress.

The probe centers on whether Mr. Bolsonaro ignored potential wrongdoing by senior members of the Health Ministry, who are alleged to have pushed ahead with a vaccine deal that others in the ministry had raised concerns about.

In testimony during a televised congressional inquiry last week into the country’s Covid-19 crisis, Luis Miranda, a Health Ministry official and whistleblower, said he faced “abnormal pressure” from members of the ministry to allow the importation of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine despite irregularities in the procurement process.

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