Private clinics reportedly ink deal for 5 million vaccines from India

india vaccine brazil bharat biotech
Health worker prepares vaccine in Mumbai. Photo: Manoej Paateel/Shutterstock

A union of Brazilian private clinics and a medicine importer have reportedly agreed to terms with India-based lab Bharat Biotech for the purchase of 5 million doses of an inactivated coronavirus vaccine called Covaxin.

According to finance newspaper Valor, which broke the story, each member of the Brazilian Association of Vaccination Clinics (ABCVAC) will be able to purchase between 2,000 and 400,000 shots — with each dose costing between USD 38 and 40.78. A memo to ABCVAC members reportedly informed members that a 10-percent retainer would be required for reserving future shipments.

India cleared Covaxin for emergency use on January 3, though late-stage trials are still in progress in that country. Bharat Biotech reportedly wishes to file for definitive regulatory approval in Brazil after February 25. On Tuesday, President Jair Bolsonaro attended a celebration of India’s Republic Day, in an attempt to iron out diplomatic relations.

Meanwhile, Valor reports that the Brazilian government is negotiating a purchase of 50 million Covaxin doses, but a deal will only be formalized after clinical trials are concluded. 

Vaccine purchases by private companies and clinics

The debate around vaccine purchases by private groups has been a heated one in Brazil. Critics say it would allow higher-income people to “cut in line” and receive vaccines before needier populations — something especially problematic considering the prospect of delays in the national immunization plan due to a lack of supplies.

Those in favor say private groups could work to supplement the public healthcare system

The Brazilian government itself has encouraged companies to negotiate purchases on their own — and sent a letter to British-Swedish lab AstraZeneca paving the way for a purchase of 33 million vaccine doses. In return, companies would surrender half of the doses to the public system and would not be able to sell vaccines, instead being forced to vaccinate their staff.

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