Criticism around Indian-made vaccine sought after by Brazil’s private clinics

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An association of private clinics in Brazil has begun negotiations to purchase 5 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by Indian lab Bharat Biotech. However, the so-called Covaxin has faced severe criticism from that country’s scientific community, as researchers claim efficiency studies have not been sufficiently transparent.

  • Indian scientists argue that phase 3 trials, which began in November with 26,000 volunteers, are still ongoing and that no data has been published to this point.
  • Bharat Biotech has not published safety results yet, according to watchdog All India Drug Action Network. Efficacy rates have yet to be disclosed, though media sources claim it could be around 60 percent. Even so, the lab was given approval by Indian health authorities and is seeking permission from Brazilian authorities for phase 3 trials.
  • A senior member of India’s federal Covid-19 task force made epidemiologists even more wary after saying Covaxin would be “like a back-up [vaccine]” in the event of a sharp spike in cases.

In Brazil, many experts have criticized the move by private clinics for another reason, as it would be a way to allow higher-income people to “cut in line” and receive vaccines before needier populations. This is especially problematic considering the federal government has been nonchalant about its own vaccination plans — with President Jair Bolsonaro being an active misinformation agent about the safety of Covid-19 vaccines.

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