Vaccination to start by end of January, says Health Minister

Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello
Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello. Photo: Isac Nóbrega/PR

One day after sparking further controversy around Brazil’s vaccination plan — by vaguely affirming that the campaign would begin on “D-day” — Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello stated today that the federal government’s vaccination efforts would begin before the end of the month. Next Wednesday, January 20, is a potential date for the first shots to be distributed.

Mr. Pazuello was in the northern city of Manaus this morning, giving a speech to present his department’s results as the municipality faces a second health system collapse, with coronavirus cases escalating.

The Health Minister said that 150 new hospital beds will be opened in the state of Amazonas by the end of this week. An additional 180 professionals will be hired to treat patients infected with the coronavirus.

Manaus will also receive oxygen tanks sent from Belém, the capital of neighboring state Pará. The Brazilian Air Force will be in charge of transporting the supplies.

Mr. Pazuello confirmed that Covid-19 vaccination will begin simultaneously in all states, but extra attention will be paid to Amazonas.

The Health Minister declared that the government has purchased 6 million doses of the Chinese-made CoronaVac vaccine, which is awaiting regulatory approval to be administered to the population. According to the government of the state of São Paulo, the vaccine has an overall efficacy rate of 50.38 percent, slightly above the minimum required for approval.

The government is also waiting on the approval of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. The immunizer has an efficacy rate of above 90 percent, according to clinical trials.

“Once [regulators] approve the two vaccines, we will begin immunization in all states in three or four days,” said Mr. Pazuello.

Members of the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) will meet on Sunday to decide on emergency approval requests for both vaccines.