Speaker to bypass government for Chinese vaccine inputs

speaker rodrigo maia chinese vaccine inputs
House Speaker Rodrigo Maia tries to get Chinese vaccine inputs on his own. Photo: Najara Araujo/ACam

Brazilian House Speaker Rodrigo Maia has scheduled for Wednesday a meeting with the Chinese Embassy in Brasília, looking to negotiate the clearance of exporting inputs necessary for the production of more jabs of the CoronaVac immunizer.

Health officials in Brazil believe the lack of inputs puts Brazil at risk of needing to paralyze vaccination efforts for a lack of available shots. Once Chinese authorities greenlight the shipment of inputs, the São Paulo-based Butantan Biological Institute will initiate the production of 46 million doses. “We can produce up to 1 million jabs a day, pending on the arrival of inputs. The difficulties right now come from the Chinese government,” says Dimas Covas, head of the institute.

Brazil has the technology to produce vaccines — but not its necessary inputs.

The House Speaker decided to bypass the federal government and speak directly with Chinese Ambassador Yang Wanming due to the stormy relationship between the Bolsonaro administration and Beijing. Relations have soured after a slew of Sinophobic comments from members of the president’s family — and even government officials.

Sources told The Brazilian Report that the administration admitted, during a meeting of senior officials, that its anti-China actions have been detrimental to the vaccine effort. To narrow the gulf between the two countries, a joint effort will start — with multiple cabinet officers reaching out to Chinese authorities.

Brazil is also encountering hardship to get 2 million ready-for-use shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced in an Indian lab. The Health Ministry quarterbacked a marketing stunt to get the shots — but New Delhi upended the deal. The South Asian country has decided to first supply neighboring countries before meeting the Brazilian demand — what has been considered a diplomatic failure by Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo, who has kept daily contacts with Indian representatives.

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