Health regulator: we will analyze vaccines “regardless of their country of origin”

vaccine anvisa
Anvisa chief Antônio Barra Torres. Photo: Ag. Senado

On the same day that President Jair Bolsonaro ordered the Health Ministry tear up a deal to purchase 46 million doses of the CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine due to an ongoing spat with São Paulo Governor João Doria, Brazil’s health regulatory agency Anvisa ensured that it will conduct its vaccination analysis “without any outside influence or pressure.”

Anvisa chief Antônio Barra Torres — appointed by Mr. Bolsonaro — stressed that the agency’s role in the vaccine discussion is “technocratic and scientific,” saying that he and his peers will analyze the effectiveness of the substances put before them “regardless of their country of origin.”

President Bolsonaro has been staunchly opposed to the purchase of the CoronaVac, as it is being developed by Chinese laboratory Sinovac, in conjunction with Brazil’s Butantan Biological Institute. However, the president’s main opposition to the prospective vaccine is that São Paulo Governor João Doria — seen as Mr. Bolsonaro’s main rival on the Brazilian right wing — was the first to negotiate with Sinovac. The president has repeatedly referred to CoronaVac as “João Doria’s Chinese vaccine.”

This morning, after the Health Ministry had agreed with state governors to purchase 46 million doses of CoronaVac, President Bolsonaro ordered that the deal be ripped up. Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello, who has recently contracted Covid-19, was reportedly irritated by the president’s reaction but will “follow orders.”

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