Input shortages jeopardize CoronaVac deal, says Butantan head

butantan vaccine coronavac deal
Dimas Covas speaks before the Senate’s Covid hearings. Photo: Jefferson Rudy/SF/ACS/CC BY 4.0

Speaking to the Senate’s Covid hearings committee, Dimas Covas — head of São Paulo’s Butantan Institute — said that delays in receiving vaccine inputs jeopardize the delivery of 54 million doses purchased by the federal government.

Mr. Covas said that the initial 46-million-dose contract with the Health Ministry has been fulfilled. A second deal — for 54 million doses until September — is already facing delays. Butantan said it will deliver less than half of the 12 million jabs expected for this month.

Mr. Covas told senators that the Butantan Institute offered to sell the federal government 60 million doses in July 2020, with delivery expected in Q4 of last year. It also asked for BRL 80 million (USD 15.2 million) to adapt a medical facility to produce Covid-19 vaccines earlier this year. Both demands were left unanswered.

“Your deposition is extremely damaging [to the government],” said Senator Humberto Costa, of the center-left Workers’ Party. “It shows just how indifferent this administration was in regards to vaccines — and corroborates what Pfizer has told this committee.”

Two weeks ago, Pfizer’s president for Latin America Carlos Murillo told the inquiry that the company made five offers to sell 70 million Covid-19 vaccines to Brazil’s Health Ministry — the first of which was made in August 2020. However, for much of last year, Pfizer’s offers were ignored by government officials.