Brazilian government to purchase CoronaVac as deaths hit 200,000

Brazilian Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello. Photo: Still from NBR

Brazil’s Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello confirmed that the federal government will purchase 100 million doses of the CoronaVac vaccine. The contract foresees the supply of 46 million doses from the Butantan Biological Institute by April, with another 54 million arriving by the end of the year.

The announcement was made on Thursday afternoon, soon after the São Paulo state government revealed results from the vaccine’s late-stage clinical trials in Brazil, presenting an efficacy of 78 percent against Covid-19 and 100 percent efficacy against severe cases of the disease.

The same day, a consortium of media outlets confirmed that Brazil exceeded the mark of 200,000 deaths from Covid-19. Over 7 million infections have also been recorded.

Mr. Pazuello’s announcement was met with some surprise, as President Jair Bolsonaro has consistently shown disdain for the CoronaVac in recent months. He once declared that he would never purchase the vaccine, as it was the result of a partnership between a Chinese laboratory and the São Paulo state government — led by his political adversary, Governor João Doria.

Amid a series of complaints about the Brazilian press’s coverage of the government’s vaccine debacle, Mr. Pazuello said that the Health Ministry has always maintained constant dialogue with the Butantan Biological Institute to purchase CoronaVac. “We have been purchasing the Butantan vaccine for months,” he claimed. “I was only able to finalize the contract today.”

Also this afternoon, Supreme Court Justice Ricardo Lewandowski gave Mr. Pazuello a deadline of five days to provide clarifications about stocks of inputs necessary for Covid-19 vaccination.

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