Congress takes credit for Pfizer vaccine approval

regulatory approval vaccine pfizer brazil
The Brazilian lower house during a sitting. Photo: Michel Jesus/CD/SC/CC-by

House Speaker Arthur Lira celebrated the definitive regulatory approval of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in Brazil, claiming it is proof of “what politics can do in the service of people, without disrespecting science.”

The Speaker’s remarks came as another dig at the inner workings of regulatory agencies under Jair Bolsonaro. At one point, the agency was suspected of stalling approvals to please the president, who has acted as Brazil’s most outspoken vaccine-skeptic. 

Now, Mr. Lira implies that the agency is willing to cave to political pressure. Earlier this year, the government’s House whip, Congressman Ricardo Barros, spoke of “strong-arming” health regulator Anvisa into approving vaccines for emergency use in the country.

While the Pfizer vaccine has obtained regulatory clearance, it remains unavailable to Brazilians due to stalled negotiations with the government. Early last year, the Health Ministry ruled out purchasing the immunizer, saying Pfizer would not be able to provide enough jabs for the Brazilian population. Then, the government called the pharmaceutical giant’s conditions for a deal “abusive.”

Mr. Lira promised Congress would spearhead efforts to advance vaccine availability in Brazil. 

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