President Jair Bolsonaro signed a provisional decree on Thursday to allocate BRL 1.9 billion (USD 350.2 million) towards the acquisition and production of a prospective Covid-19 vaccine developed by drugmaker AstraZeneca in partnership with the University of Oxford.
The amount will be transferred to the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) for biological research – AstraZeneca’s partner in Brazil for both holding trials and negotiating the vaccine’s technology transfer.
On June 27, the federal government announced a partnership with the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, with an initial investment of BRL 695 million for the purchase and production of their prospective Covid-19 vaccine in Brazil. If the vaccine proves to be effective, the country is expected to receive 100 million units of the vaccine by the second quarter of 2021 and the technology to independently produce the vaccine in the future.
“We are guaranteeing the investment of resources in a vaccine that has proved itself as the world’s most promising. The investment is significant, not only for its value, almost BRL 2 billion, but also for the quest to bring solutions to Brazil that allow for the development of technologies for the protection of Brazilians,” said Interim Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello, during the signing ceremony of the provisional decree.
Of the BRL 1.9 billion, BRL 522.1 million will be spent on expanding the Bio-Manguinhos lab — Fiocruz’s division responsible for developing and producing vaccines — located in the city of Rio de Janeiro. The remaining BRL 1.3 billion will be allocated to the purchase and transfer of technology to produce the vaccine — a figure almost twice as big as the initial investment originally reported in June.
The ‘Oxford vaccine,’ as it is popularly called, was the first vaccine in the world to reach the third and final phase of trials, when researchers are cleared to hold final mass trials on humans to determine the vaccine’s safety and efficiency on a larger group. Worldwide, the vaccine is holding tests on 50,000 volunteers, 5,000 in Brazil, in partnership with Fiocruz and the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp).
The early phase three results are encouraging, with Unifesp Dean Soraya Smaili recently saying that the prospective vaccine is a “strong and secure” candidate against Covid-19.
In July, The Brazilian Report covered how the Oxford vaccine and another prospective vaccine being developed by Chinese lab Sinovac Biotech — both being tested in Brazil — are the country’s leading hopes in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine.Support this coverage →