First doses of AstraZeneca to be available in February

The country has started an auction to purchase 330 thousand syringes

Published in 23/12/2020 - 13:34 By Karine Melo - Brasília

The first doses of the vaccine developed by Oxford University, in collaboration with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, and finalized in Brazil, will be available as of February 8. During a public hearing of a special lower house commission against COVID-19, Foundation Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz) Head Nísia Trindade said 1 million doses are scheduled to be delivered in the weeks of February 2–12 and 15–19. Starting in the third week, from February 22–26, daily doses will total 700 thousand, adding up to 3.5 million doses a week.

The schedule, however, will hinge on vaccine registration with the country’s national sanitary regulator Anvisa.

In the same hearing, Arnaldo Medeiros, health surveillance secretary at the Health Ministry, said that, in addition to the vaccine produced by Fiocruz, Brazil’s talks with Pfizer have made significant progress and the contract is nearly finalized. In partnership with German laboratory BioNtech, Pfizer has produced the first internationally approved vaccine against COVID-19. “Eight million doses are expected in the first half-year of 2021 and another 62 million doses in the second half next year, totaling 70 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine in 2021.”

Another contract reported to be underway is that of Institute Butantan, for 46 million doses of CoronaVac. Starting in January, after it is approved by the regulatory agency, 9 million doses will be acquired in January, 15 million in February, and 22 million in March, as per the schedule proposed by Butantan. “Yesterday we had a meeting [with Butantan] to expand this purchase to 200 million in the first half-year,” the secretary said.

Also regarding vaccine acquisition, Medeiros told representatives that the Covac Facility consortium, a global initiative spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO), will make vaccine doses available to Brazil “very soon.” Still unknown is to which vaccine Brazil will gain access via the consortium.

Emergency

Fiocruz president underscored that Brazil has worked diligently to obtain ready-made doses for emergency use. In this case, if registration is finished by any international agency equivalent to Anvisa, the Brazilian agency may authorize emergency vaccination in up to ten days.

“We’re joining efforts with the Health Minister [Eduardo Pazuello] for after vaccine registration—and registration should not be long in coming in the UK or the European Community, in the sanitary agencies equivalent to Anvisa—to have vaccines ready before we’re through processing this production, if possible. This is an extra effort, but it’s difficult because such negotiations have taken place worldwide. We’re trying both ways,” Nísia Trindade pointed out.

Next week, Trindade said, a meeting led by AstraZeneca should be held with Brazilian experts to discuss the matter.

Syringes

The acquisition of syringes for the immunization was also discussed by representatives. The auction is open for the purchase of 330 million syringes, Medeiros said. “The contract is expected to be inked on January 10, and everything is underway,” he stated. Also in progress, he went on to say, is the development of a course to train the professionals that will work in the vaccination program.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Brasília

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