Brazil begins vaccinations at the national level amid deficit of supplies

Brazil begins vaccinations at the national level amid deficit of supplies

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Nurse Monica Calazans, 54, receives the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Jessica Pires de Camargo, 30, after Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa approved its emergency use, in the Hospital das Clinicas in Sao Paulo, Brazil. January 17, 2021.

SAO PAULO, Jan 18 (Reuters) – Brazil began on Monday a national immunization program against COVID-19 by distributing doses of a vaccine from China Sinovac Biotech after authorization for emergency use, although the pace of the campaign it will depend on the delayed imports of the drug.

After weeks of setbacks, many Brazilians applauded the first wave of vaccines, from bustling clinics in Sao Paulo to an injection planned to be performed at the foot of the Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro.

 

The Health Ministry gave the green light to states to begin vaccinating at 5:00 p.m. local time (2000 GMT), although some officials wasted no time in initiating immunizations.

Minutes after the federal health agency Anvisa approved the Sinovac Biotech vaccine on Sunday, Monica Calazans, a 54-year-old nurse in Sao Paulo, became the first person to be vaccinated in the country, under the gaze of the governor of the state, Joao Doria.

 

President Jair Bolsonaro, a COVID-19 skeptic who has refused to be vaccinated, had faced harsh criticism for the lack of immunization in Brazil, which has lost more than 200,000 lives due to COVID-19, the second-worst death toll ever. world level behind the United States.

 

On Sunday, Anvisa approved the emergency use of the Sinovac vaccine and one from AstraZeneca Plc, although a plan to obtain 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine was hampered by a lack of export approval from India.

That was one of several hurdles that threatened to halt Brazil’s long-delayed immunization efforts, as local partners of vaccine manufacturers wait for active ingredients from abroad to fill and finalize doses for distribution.

 

The Butantan Institute, run by the state of Sao Paulo, needs another shipment of Sinovac ingredients by the end of the month to reach its target of 46 million doses in April, the institute’s director said at a press conference.

In addition, the federally funded Fiocruz biomedical center in Rio de Janeiro is still awaiting its first shipment of vaccine ingredients from AstraZeneca, pending export approval from China.

 

Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello rebuked Doria on Sunday for what he called an illegal “marketing tactic” for giving the green light to start vaccination in Sao Paulo before the official launch.

Bolsonaro, who had mocked Doria for the disappointing 50% efficacy of Sinovac’s vaccine in Brazilian trials, added indirect criticism on Monday. “The application in Brazil is released. It is the vaccine from Brazil. It is not from any governor,” he told his supporters outside the presidential palace.

Ben Oakley
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