The Chinese-made CoronaVac posted 78-percent efficacy against the coronavirus during final studies with Brazilian patients, according to newspaper Folha de S.Paulo. The vaccine, produced by the Beijing-based lab Sinovac Biotech, is being tested in Brazil by São Paulo’s Butantan Biological Institute.
In the wake of the news, Butantan issued a request to federal health regulatory agency Anvisa for the emergency approval of CoronaVac. Emergency clearance would allow the vaccine to be administered to pre-defined population groups and for a restricted amount of time.
The 78 percent rate refers to mild Covid-19 cases — while moderate and severe ones were completely avoided among trial participants. The data has been revised by a panel of international experts.
CoronaVac phase 3 trials in Brazil included 13,000 volunteers who took two jabs over a space of 14 days. All study participants were health workers, hailing from eight different states. A reported 220 volunteers were subsequently infected with the coronavirus — but no deaths were recorded.
The politics of the CoronaVac
The Chinese vaccine has been subject to intense politicization by both São Paulo Governor João Doria — who intends to use a successful vaccination program as a stepping stone to the presidency — and President Jair Bolsonaro, who wants to prevent any politician from building a competitive challenge to his re-election in 2022.
The rift between the two led to speculation around potential political interference by the government in Anvisa — which is tasked with approving vaccines before distribution.
On Wednesday, Mr. Doria presented his statewide plan to start administering the CoronaVac to São Paulo citizens from January 25 on — leading the federal government to scramble in order to put forward its own inoculation program.
This is a developing story and will be updated as new information surfaces.
Support this coverage →