COVID-19: We’re far from the end, says Anvisa head

Torres argues Brazil is at the mercy of producers of vaccine supplies

Published in 08/04/2021 - 16:38 By Karine Mello - Brasília

Antônio Barra Torres, director-president of Brazil’s national sanitary authority Anvisa, said Thursday (Apr. 8) that the situation regarding the pandemic is far from its end. “The understanding we have here at the agency—it’s not really cheerful, I must say—is that the situation we’re experiencing is far from an end. There’s no conviction among us that the worst phase is behind us. We’ve had a number of signs of even more challenging possibilities coming in the short and medium runs.”

During a public hearing of the Temporary COVID-19 Commission, held at the Senate Thursday (8), when asked about whether COVID-19 vaccines could be manufactured in veterinary plants, Torres noted that Anvisa believes it could happen, but further investment is needed.

“Indeed, some investments are needed, because it is necessary to raise the level of biological security of these laboratories, so to speak, these vaccine producing locations—some maybe capable of taking over the full cycle; others may be directed at the packaging process. This is not something Anvisa will rule out,” he stated.

Still discussing the issue, Torres said Anvisa sees no point in keeping its eyes on short-term issues alone. “We do have to look further into the future. We took measures a while ago in this connection here at Anvisa, including the creation of a strategic assessment group for the matter, with a prospective vision and a focus on the coming years.”

Fiocruz

Also invited for the hearing was Nísia Trindade Lima, head of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz). She said that, while Brazil tackles the difficulties in importing the active pharmaceutical ingredient, Fiocruz, responsible for the Oxford/AstraZeneca in the country, will sign a technology transfer deal for the inoculation in two weeks, in an attempt to have it produced domestically.

Fiocruz, Lima reported, has been working on two production lines, which manufacture 900 thousand doses every day. “Soon, we’ll be working with a new production line, a second work shift, which should enable us to reach a daily 1.2 million doses.”

According to Fiocruz, vaccines already produced with domestic active pharmaceutical ingredient should start being delivered in September. “We have the active pharmaceutical ingredient guaranteed for production until May. But the Chinese ambassador said he has been monitoring it personally,” Fiocruz declared. China is the country exporting the ingredient used by Brazil in the production of the vaccines.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Valéria Aguiar / Nira Foster

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