Brazil authorizes emergency use of Sinovac, AstraZeneca vaccines

By Jamie McGeever and Pedro Fonseca BRASILIA/RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian health regulator Anvisa's board on Sunday voted to approve emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines from China's Sinovac Biotech and Britain's AstraZeneca and to begin immunizations as the pandemic enters a deadly second wave. Brazilian health regulator Anvisa voted unanimously to approve both vaccines after almost five hours of deliberation by its board of directors. President Jair Bolsonaro, a coronavirus skeptic who has refused to take a vaccine himself, is under growing pressure to start inoculations in Brazil, which has lost more than 200,000 to COVID-19 – the worst death toll outside the United States

Reuters January 18, 2021 01:11:05 IST
Brazil authorizes emergency use of Sinovac, AstraZeneca vaccines

Brazil authorizes emergency use of Sinovac AstraZeneca vaccines

By Jamie McGeever and Pedro Fonseca

BRASILIA/RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian health regulator Anvisa's board on Sunday voted to approve emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines from China's Sinovac Biotech and Britain's AstraZeneca and to begin immunizations as the pandemic enters a deadly second wave.

Brazilian health regulator Anvisa voted unanimously to approve both vaccines after almost five hours of deliberation by its board of directors.

President Jair Bolsonaro, a coronavirus skeptic who has refused to take a vaccine himself, is under growing pressure to start inoculations in Brazil, which has lost more than 200,000 to COVID-19 – the worst death toll outside the United States. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi)

However, delays with vaccine shipments and testing results have held up vaccinations in the country, once a global leader in mass immunizations and now a regional laggard after peers such as Chile and Mexico started giving shots last month.

Bolsonaro's government was planning to kick off a national immunization program this week but is still waiting on shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccine at the center of its plans. That has added to public frustration and offered a political rival the chance to upstage the right-wing president.

Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, who oversees the Butantan biomedical center that partnered with Sinovac in Brazil on the Chinese shot known as CoronaVac, said vaccinations could start immediately.

"I have determined that as soon as Anvisa approves the emergency use of the Butantan vaccine, the Butantan Institute will immediately deliver the vaccines to the Health Ministry to be distributed to SP (Sao Paulo), DF (Federal District) and all Brazilian states," Doria tweeted just before the deciding vote was cast by Anvisa's board.

Anvisa's top official said the approval would only be legally valid once the decision was published in the official government gazette.

Bolsonaro, for whom Doria is a potential center-right rival to his 2022 re-election efforts, has taunted the governor over CoronaVac's disappointing 50% efficacy in Brazilian trials, but the federal Health Ministry has agreed to acquire and distribute the shot for the national immunization drive.

Adding to urgency for vaccinations, a second wave of the outbreak in Brazil is snowballing as the country confronts a new, potentially more contagious variant of the coronavirus that originated in Amazonas and prompted Britain and Italy to bar entry to Brazilians.

(Reporting by Eduardo Simoes in Sao Paulo, Pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro, Jamie McGeever in Brasilia; Editing by Brad Haynes and Lisa Shumaker)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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