Brazil outlines Covid-19 vaccination strategy, while President Bolsonaro says shot 'free, but non-mandatory' for citizens

In its four-stage vaccination rollout plan, healthcare workers, indigenous people and elderly will be vaccinated on priority.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has said that every citizen of the country will get a COVID-19 vaccine free of cost. He also added that this doesn't make the vaccine mandatory for all, and that it will be available for those who want to take it. Bolsonaro took to Twitter to make the announcement. He also said the economy ministry had clarified there will be enough doses and resources for everyone who wishes to take the Covid-19 shot. However, this will only happen under the condition that the Brazilian health regulator ANVISA gives the vaccine candidate its scientific and legal go-ahead.

Recently, the Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello announced Brazil's four-stage preliminary plan to vaccinate the country's population. He said that healthcare workers, indigenous people and those who are 75 years and older will be given priority in the country's vaccination startegy.

The second stage will consist of people who are aged 60 to 74 years old, while those with health conditions like heart or kidney disease will be included in the third stage. Teachers, security personnel and first responders, along with prison staff and inmates will make up the fourth stage.

Then, the vaccine will be given to the entire population and he believes that these four stages will cover 109.5 million people out of the total population of 212 million, a Reuters report stated.

Brazil has signed deals with UK's AstraZeneca to get the vaccine developed by Oxford University. According to a report by Reuters, Brazilian government has approved a presidential decree of 2 billion reais ($388 million) to buy 100.4 million vaccines doses. The funds will also be used to produce the vaccine in the federal biomedical centre Fiocruz.

CoronoVac developed by Chinese company Sinovac Biotech Ltd is undergoing late-stage testing at 16 different locations in Brazil and the efficacy reports are expected to be published by 15 December. Recently, 600 litres (158 gallons) or 120,000 doses of the CoronaVac vaccine arrived at Guarulhos International airport in Sao Paulo. It is part of a batch of six million doses that have been imported from China and is set to be used in January.

Sputnik V developed by Russia is also being tested in Brazil and two Brazilian companies have signed deals to start producing the vaccine in the country.

Through the Covax Facility co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi – the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Brazil will also be getting 14.5 million vaccine doses. However, which candidate the country will receive, is still unknown.

Brazil is currently the country with the third-highest number of coronavirus cases, after the US and India. It has also become the hotbed for conducting clinical trials with Pfizer Inc testing their vaccine along with Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical subsidiary Janssen conducting tests as well.

The Brazilian health ministry announced Monday that it aimed to sign a memorandum of understanding with US drug manufacturer Pfizer for 70 million doses of its vaccine.

Brazil has 6,628,065 cases and 177,388 deaths.

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