Brazilian Ministry of Health expects to have at least 150 million doses of vaccines against Covid-19 available in the first half of 2021, with a third or more coming from a Chinese company, despite the president’s initial skepticism.
Arnaldo Medeiros, a health ministry official, also said at a congressional hearing on Tuesday that an initial deal to acquire 46 million doses of the vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech could soon be expanded to 100 million.
From the state government of sao paulo Butantan Institute it is expected that it will present data from its final stage judgment of the Sinovac vaccine, CoronaVac, on Wednesday, which has already started rolling out its filling and finishing production line.
President Jair Bolsonaro despised that vaccine, citing doubts about its “origin” and exchanging barbs with the governor of São Paulo John Doria, a political rival.
But the health ministry is eager to secure supplies as the global vaccine race heats up.
The federal government’s Fiocruz biomedical center is also expected to start filling and finalizing the AstraZeneca vaccine in the coming months, applying the first injections on February 8. The ministry expects 104 million doses by June, officials said.
Separately, the ministry is in negotiations with Pfizer to receive doses of 8 million of the vaccine he developed with BioNTech in Germany in the first half of 2021.
No Covid-19 vaccine has yet been approved for use in Brazil. The Pfizer / BioNTech injection has been authorized in several countries, including the USA, UK and Canada.
Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly downplayed the severity of the pandemic, said he would not take any vaccines, fueling greater skepticism about vaccines among Brazilians. Brazilian public health officials, however, said they would use any vaccine approved by regulators.
On Tuesday, Brazil registered 55,202 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 7,318,821. Deaths increased in 968 to 188,259.