Gov’t announces purchase of 100 million doses of CoronaVac

The vaccine will be manufactured in São Paulo by Butantan Institute

Published in 08/01/2021 - 17:00 By Jonas Valente - Brasília

Brazil’s Health Ministry announced the signing of a contract with São Paulo’s Butantan Institute for the purchase of up to 100 million doses of vaccine CoronaVac against COVID-19 in 2021, manufactured by the institute in collaboration with Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac.

The contract includes an initial purchase of 45 million units, with the possibility of acquiring another 54 million later on. This model was adopted by the ministry due to the lack of budget to trade the whole 100 million doses. Today, Butantan Institute reported that the vaccine has an efficiency of 78 percent.

At a press conference at the Planalto presidential palace Thursday (Jan. 7), Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello talked about the contract of the purchase of Coronavac and the situation regarding the vaccination against COVID-19.

Pazuello stated that the acquisition of the Coronavac batch was made possible by the provisional presidential decree enacted Wednesday (6), which led to the vaccine contract before the registration with Brazil’s national sanitary regulator Anvisa.

“The presidential decree authorizes the contract for vaccine and other supplies even before the registration is completed with Anvisa—which was not allowed before,” the minister declared.

The ministry plans to have up to 354 million doses available by 2021. This amount should comprise two million doses imported from Astrazeneca, in India, 10.4 million produced by Fiocruz by July, 110 million manufactured in Brazil by Fiocruz starting in August, 42.5 million from Covax Facility (probably from Astrazeneca) and the 100 million Coronavac stemming from the contract with Butantan Institute.

Coronavac will cost approximately $10 a dose, requiring two doses per person to be vaccinated. Astrazeneca, in turn, costs $3.75 a dose. On the latter, Minister Eduardo Pazuello stated that just one dose would be given.

Minister Eduardo Pazuello has updated the three scenarios for the early stages of vaccination previously unveiled. In the best-case scenario, the process starts on January 20 if laboratories obtain the emergency authorization with Anvisa.

In this hypothesis, 8 million doses should be available. The immunization should take place with the vaccines available, be them from Butantan Institute or imported from Astrazeneca in India.

The second scenario would go from January 20 to February 10. The third would last from February 10 to early March. Pazuello noted that the prediction is that two domestic producers, Butantan and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, reach a manufacture capacity of 30 million doses a month still this year.

The minister said that the agency team is still negotiating with Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company that has acquired vaccines from other countries. However, he argued that the company has set requirements not well regarded by the ministry, such as no accountability for any side effect, the decision to have the US as a forum to address any moves stemming from problems of this nature, and the stipulation of having Brazil provide material to dilute the vaccine.

“We haven’t stopped negotiating with Pfizer. What do we want? We want it to provide a treatment compatible with our country, and tone down these clauses. We can’t sign it this way. It offered 500 thousand in January, 500 thousand in February, and 2 million in March, 2 million in April, 2 million in May, and 2 million in June. Think whether this can settle the issue in Brazil. All vaccines offered by Pfizer in the first half-year can vaccinate half of the population of Rio de Janeiro,” the minister stressed.

Syringes

The representatives of the Health Ministry also talked about the provision of syringes. An auction was conducted, and concluded with three percent of the total forecast. President Bolsonaro stated that he would suspend the purchase of syringes until prices are down again.

The ministry’s Executive-Secretary Élcio Franco, said there are 80 million syringes that could be mobilized immediately for the beginning of the vaccination, including the existing ones in states and municipalities. He added that the Ministry obtained 30 million syringes from manufacturers through administrative requests.

Another 40 million may be acquired in an international purchase with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), of which 8 million may come between late January and early February.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Pedro Ivo de Oliveira / Nira Foster

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