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India’s Bharat Biotech to supply its Covid-19 vaccine to Brazil

Covaxin maker Bharat Biotech has signed an agreement with Precisa Medicamentos, a firm in Brazil, to supply the COVID-19 vaccine candidate to the Latin American country.

The company will supply 12 million doses of Covaxin to Brazil.

Developed with Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Virology, Covaxin is an inactivated two-dose vaccine and earlier this month had received emergency use authorisation from the Drugs Controller General of India. Phase III clinical trials for Covaxin that began in November are underway and involve around 26,000 volunteers across the country.

Brazil has registered over 8 million cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen over 203,000, the world’s second-deadliest coronavirus outbreak.

Brazil has signed agreements to receive other COVID-19 vaccines. Authorities there are facing growing pressure to speed up the vaccine rollout, which is lagging regional peers. Mexico, Chile and Argentina have already begun immunizations.

Meanwhile, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Wednesday he was right to criticize the credibility of a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech that posted disappointing efficacy results in local trials.

On Tuesday, researchers in Sao Paulo state announced that the Chinese vaccine was 50.4% effective at preventing symptomatic infections in a local trial – barely enough for regulatory approval and well below the rate announced last week.

Bolsonaro, a far-right former army captain, is a longstanding China hawk. He has repeatedly criticized the Sinovac shot, which was being late-stage tested by Sao Paulo’s Butantan Institute, as untrustworthy. He previously said his government would not buy the Chinese vaccine but later relented as a criticism of Brazil’s vaccine rollout has grown.

(With inputs from agencies)

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