Health officials in Brasília announced on Wednesday that citizens will now be allowed to choose which coronavirus vaccine they want to take. Brazil’s capital currently offers doses from Sinovac, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca.
According to the local government, the move is a way to convince more people to get their required shots. The Federal District — which encompasses Brasília — ranks only 12th out of 27 states in terms of vaccination rates.
Thanks to waves of misinformation and vaccine skepticism spread on Brazilian social media, many citizens are reluctant to take jabs from AstraZeneca or Sinovac. For months, the so-called “vaccine sommeliers” hopped from one health center to the next in search of Pfizer or Janssen vaccines. Several cities in the state of São Paulo imposed punishment on these citizens, putting them to the back of the vaccination line.
The São Paulo-based Butantan Biological Institute is scrambling to export a surplus of 15 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine, after the Health Ministry refused to purchase it. Butantan is now trying to hammer out an agreement with the Chinese pharmaceutical firm to donate the vaccines to African and South American countries.
At a symposium with Butantan on December 7, Sinovac CEO Weidong Yin said the company is developing a new version of its CoronaVac vaccine, capable of protecting against the Omicron coronavirus variant.