Protests against President Jair Bolsonaro have spread across Brazil, after a Supreme Court justice authorised a criminal investigation into his response to allegations of potential corruption involving a vaccine deal.

Demonstrators gathered by the thousands in more than 40 cities to demand Mr Bolsonaro’s impeachment or greater access to vaccines against COVID-19.

Bolsonaro has been accused of not acting on suspicions of wrongdoing after a whistleblower at the Ministry of Health claimed to have personally raised with him concerns about a R$1.6bn ($320m) deal to acquire 20m jabs of Covaxin produced by Bharat Biotech from India.

Flag of Brazil

With more than half a million lives lost to Covid-19 in Latin America’s most populous nation, the controversy has become a political headache for the Bolsonaro administration.

The return of protesters to the streets of Brazil’s big cities raises the pressure on the president ahead of his re-election campaign next year.

Many claim the populist leader, who has railed against lockdowns and disparaged the use of masks, has been negligent in his handling of the pandemic.

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