Brazil's Sao Paulo state starts producing Chinese vaccine, awaits federal approval
By Ana Mano and Eduardo Simões SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's São Paulo state on Thursday started producing the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech, Governor João Doria said, even though the federal government of President Jair Bolsonaro has yet to approve its use. Doria announced at a news conference that São Paulo's biomedical center, the Butantan Institute, has capacity to make 1 million doses per day in a fill-and-finish production line, with vaccinations in the state to begin on Jan
By Ana Mano and Eduardo Simões
SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's São Paulo state on Thursday started producing the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech, Governor João Doria said, even though the federal government of President Jair Bolsonaro has yet to approve its use.
Doria announced at a news conference that São Paulo's biomedical center, the Butantan Institute, has capacity to make 1 million doses per day in a fill-and-finish production line, with vaccinations in the state to begin on Jan. 25.
So far 11 Brazilian states other than Sao Paulo have requested the vaccine called CoronaVac, Doria said, setting the stage for a showdown with Bolsonaro, a far-right leader who has said he will not buy the Chinese vaccine for Brazil's national immunization program.
Earlier on Thursday, Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello pledged in a radio interview to vaccinate Brazil's entire population against COVID-19 in 2021. Pressure has been mounting, with state governors criticizing the federal government as unprepared for a mass immunization campaign and failing to secure a diverse enough supply of vaccines.
Pazuello repeated the ministry would buy any effective vaccines that are approved by health regulator Anvisa and reasonably priced, leaving open a federal purchase of the Chinese vaccine.
Brazil has the world's second-deadliest outbreak of the novel coronavirus after the United States, with more than 178,000 deaths.
The continent-sized country, with a population of 212 million, has registered 6.7 million confirmed cases.
Although Brazil has an enviable record for national vaccination campaigns and a strong public health system, Bolsonaro has repeatedly denied the gravity of the virus and is a vaccine skeptic who has said he will not take a COVID-19 shot.
On Thursday, Bolsonaro said the end of the pandemic was in sight for Brazil, despite a worsening second wave of infections, with daily case numbers back to mid-August levels.
"Our country is among those that have best emerged from the pandemic," he said at a public event without providing evidence.
Also on Thursday, health regulator Anvisa set out rules for companies to apply for emergency use authorizations for COVID-19 vaccines, an option that had not previously existed.
The Anvisa decision could allow emergency use of vaccines being tested in Brazil. AstraZeneca, Pfizer Inc, Johnson & Johnson's pharmaceutical subsidiary Janssen, and Sinovac all have vaccines in late-stage trials in the country.
Brazil's federal government has signed a letter of intent to buy 70 million doses from Pfizer as well as around 100 million doses from AstraZeneca. In total, it says it has lined up 300 million doses via agreements with several manufacturers.
(Reporting by Eduardo Simões and Ana Mano, writing by Anthony Boadle, editing by Stephen Eisenhammer and David Gregorio)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
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