Federal institute pushing for Brazilian vaccine

vaccine fiocruz
Researcher at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation. Photo: Joa Souza/Shutterstock

Brazilians woke up to the news that the São Paulo-based Butantan Institute is seeking authorization to hold clinical trials on a new Brazilian coronavirus vaccine, named Butanvac.

Speaking to CNN Brasil, researcher Julio Croda of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation said the institution — which operates under the federal government’s umbrella — is also conducting studies on a Brazilian immunizer.

The federal government and the state of São Paulo have staged a battle when it comes to vaccines — backed up by a political feud between President Jair Bolsonaro and São Paulo Governor João Doria. Tensions between the two are so high that Butantan conducted its pre-clinical trials in a hush-hush manner, presumably to avoid boycotts from federal authorities. 

“The Health Ministry is becoming aware [of the Butanvac vaccine] at the same time as you,” Butantan chief Dimas Covas told reporters on Friday.

UPDATE: Despite claims by the São Paulo government, the Butanvac is not 100-percent Brazilian. It has, in reality, been developed by the Icahn School of Medicine at New York-based Mount Sinai Health System. In December 2020, the hospital published a study describing the possibility of using the current influenza virus vaccine production capacity to manufacture an egg-based inactivated Newcastle disease virus.