Together with a team of about 30 people, including communication professionals and health consultants, she creates content for the website and is the father’s voice on social networks. Drauzio’s name was involved in two recent episodes that generated great repercussions in the media. At the beginning of the month, the doctor was attacked by a report he presented in “Fantástico” about prisoners after information was released that one of the characters had killed and raped a child.
Last week, another problem: Environment Minister Ricardo Salles and Senator Flávio Bolsonaro released an old video on their social networks in which Drauzio Varella commented on the coronavirus, when there were still no cases of contamination in Brazil. In the video, originally published in January, the doctor said he was leading a normal life and there was no reason to panic.
In both cases, Drauzio had to take a public position. And at his side was Mariana. “We have a very strong job in the networks, because we believe it is fundamental. On the other hand, there is the problem of disinformation circulation. And this, in health, has a very serious impact. We know that the things we do have great So, when something goes wrong, the repercussions will also be great. But we are in a very complicated moment politically, and these virtual attacks have happened frequently. It is boring to see people distorting what you say, my father has a job in health area for 40 years. But we are concerned even with the impact that this can have on health. My father doesn’t read, he thinks this is silly. ”
In an interview with Twitter, Mariana spoke of the work she has been doing with her team to clarify the population about the coronavirus, evaluated the government’s initiatives and spoke of her negative expectations for the coming weeks. “I hope to be wrong, but the situation is serious. We have to avoid the peak of the pandemic, try to avoid a major catastrophe, but the situation is serious and will tend to get worse in the coming days.”
Read excerpts from the interview below.
UOL – How has been the work that you are developing for the Drauzio Varella Portal on coronavirus?
Mariana Varella – We have been following the coronavirus since January. We already expected it to arrive in Brazil and become a pandemic. We were already getting information about the more technical part, the symptoms, how quickly it was spreading. So, we were already a little prepared for the seriousness of the situation. My father was very worried, because he already foresaw the impact that this would have in Brazil, considering social conditions, number of people, health system. Many regions do not even have an ICU. I put the entire team totally dedicated to this topic, and we have been working more than 12 hours a day.
There has been a lot of false news about the coronavirus. And recently there was the case in which the Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, and Senator Flávio Bolsonaro posted an old video of Drauzio Varella talking about the disease, which ended up taken off the air by Twitter. How is your performance on social networks?
We have a very strong job, because we believe it is fundamental. On the other hand, there is the problem of circulation of disinformation. And this, in health, has a very serious impact. So, we partner with checking agencies, we try to act to combat disinformation and increase the circulation of quality information.
It sucks to see people distort what you say. My father has been working in the healthcare field for 40 years, it is very annoying to see him as the target of spreading false news. But we are concerned even with the impact that this can have on health. My father doesn’t read, he thinks it’s silly.
There was also a recent case in the report that dr. Drauzio did it in jail with the transsexuals. And, after disclosing that one of the prisoners had raped and murdered a 9-year-old boy, he was publicly beaten. How was this episode for you?
We know that the things we do have great repercussions, so when something goes wrong, the repercussions will also be great. But we are in a very difficult time politically. It went beyond an attack for a personal problem, for which my father took full responsibility. Because he always said that it is not up to the doctor to ask what people do in private life, and he takes it very seriously. These virtual attacks have been happening frequently.
What is your assessment of government policies that are being implemented nationally and in São Paulo with regard to the coronavirus?
There are two movements in the government that are very apparent. The Ministry of Health, which has been doing a good job, making data available, taking action so far and giving correct guidance. We feel that they are committed to reducing the risk of what we are facing. And there is another wing of the government that is underestimating what is coming.
I understand that there is an economic impact, there is a lot at stake and the government needs to be concerned, but it is not possible to minimize the coronavirus by saying that it is a cold, that it is nothing serious, that isolation is not necessary. This is a mistake.
What is your perspective for the coming weeks regarding this pandemic?
Unfortunately, I hope I’m wrong, but my expectations are not good. We had some correct measures, the state of São Paulo is also doing a good job, as well as the municipality, but the situation is serious. We have to avoid the peak of the pandemic, because if there are a large number of people catching [a doença] at the same time, 20% will need hospital care. We have this fear that the health system will not handle. And I find that inevitable. I think it will happen. We can try to avoid a major catastrophe, but the situation is serious and tends to get worse in the coming days.
Another concern I have is with inequality. Brazil is an unequal country and the coronavirus will reach people unevenly. When it reaches poor communities, people living in precarious conditions, in spaces with few rooms and without ventilation, children and the elderly together, a catastrophe can happen.
That is why the defense of SUS is so important. We are lucky to have a Unified Health System, and this is in our favor, facilitating coordinated actions for prevention, case identification and treatment.
What has been the most challenging about this coverage?
There is a personal and a professional challenge. Every journalist is encouraged to bring quality information. But I am also very concerned with the collective challenge, of being more supportive, thinking of the whole, which is an exercise that the Brazilian is not used to doing. The importance of playing my role as a citizen, of taking care of others, of society, doing what I can.
How is the relationship with your father? What legacy do you think your work can leave?
We have always been very close, we have a very close relationship as a father and daughter. My family is very united. Our work as a legacy is a concern that my father has too. He sees the importance of the press in Brazil, the importance of having a press committed to the quality of information. And it must continue regardless of him, after him. Our team is very committed to this legacy and this mission.