President Bolsonaro suspends syringe purchases due to high prices

syringe purchases brazil
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President Jair Bolsonaro announced his government will not proceed with syringe and needle purchases for Covid-19 vaccines until prices “return to normal,” as the country grapples with a lack of inputs caused by exports. 

The announcement comes after the Health Ministry was only able to purchase 2.4 percent of the 331 million syringes needed to immunize the population in an auction in late December. In yet another logistical blunder by the government, the ministry was unable to find any suppliers offering prices it deemed reasonable, having waited until the end of 2020 to begin procurement for crucial inputs.  

In an attempt to beef up the local market, the government applied restrictions on exports of needles and syringes, but data obtained by news website 6 Minutos show that this measure is too little, too late. From May to July, syringe exports rose by nearly 200 percent, with a total of 221 tons leaving the country — most of them were bought by Chile, the first South American country to begin vaccinating its population.

President Bolsonaro attributed the spike in prices to the Health Ministry’s interest in procurement and said that, for now, states and municipalities have enough inputs to begin vaccination campaigns. However, there is still no timeframe for when this would happen.

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