Brazil scrambles to secure COVID-19 vaccine from India
Photo Credit: AFP

Brazil’s private clinics have signed a deal for an alternative COVID-19 vaccine made by India’s Bharat Biotech. This comes as it also made a diplomatic push on Monday to ensure Indian-made shipment of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, Reuters reported.

Last week, the head of Brazil’s Fiocruz Institute had told Reuters that Brazil will be able to secure only one million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine by the second week of February.

According to the report, as Brazil’s government and private sector scrambled to secure doses of COVID-19 vaccines, the urgency underscored how South America’s largest nation, once an example of mass immunization success in the developing world, has fallen behind peers in the race to inoculate against the highly contagious COVID-19.

Meanwhile, an association of private Brazilian clinics has announced its ambitious plans to procure 5 million doses of Covaxin. However, Bharat Biotech has not yet applied for approval by Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa for its Covaxin vaccine, and the agency said it would have to undergo Phase III human trials in the country.

Geraldo Barbosa, head of the Brazilian Association of Vaccine Clinics (ABCVAC), who will lead a delegation to India, revealed that a memorandum of understanding has already been signed by Brazil with Bharat Biotech.

“This should be the first vaccine available on the private market in Brazil. The Covaxin doses should arrive in Brazil in mid-March, to be sold by private clinics after regulators there approve the vaccine,” Barbosa told Reuters.

Meanwhile, the chief executive of the Serum Institute of India told Reuters on Sunday that he expected India’s government to restrict export of COVID-19 vaccines. This has raised concerns in Brazil as health regulator Anvisa had granted approval on New Year’s Eve to import 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India.

A Brazilian official with knowledge of the matter told Reuters that Brazil’s government is optimistic that it will be able to import the vaccines from India and any hurdles will be resolved diplomatically.

Two people familiar with the matter said diplomats were working to confirm the shipment would not be affected by any export ban. Fiocruz Institute also confirmed that Brazil’s Foreign Ministry was leading the talks, the Reuters report says.

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