Pfizer and Moderna vaccines ruled out for use in Brazil

. Dec 02, 2020
vaccines Pfizer and Moderna Image: RHJPhtotoandilustration/Shutterstock

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Today, we talk about how Brazil will deal with Covid-19 vaccines. A trade threat from France. And another massive data breach in government systems.

Brazil to give up on two promising Covid-19 vaccines

After weeks of hesitation, the Brazilian government has revealed a preliminary version of its Covid-19 vaccination plan

— a definitive one will only be released after it becomes clear which vaccines will get clearance from federal regulators. While the UK approved one vaccine for use as early as <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/health-55145696">next week</a>, the government in Brazil plans to start immunization only in March 2021.</p> <ul><li>Health workers, indigenous populations, and citizens aged 75 or more will be the first to get a vaccine. A second stage will immunize those aged 60 to 74, followed by at-risk populations, and finally teachers, security forces, and those in the prison system.&nbsp;</li><li>The plan is to reach 109.5 million people (out of 211 million) by June 2021.</li></ul> <p><strong>Ideal vaccines.</strong> Brazil&#8217;s Health Surveillance Secretary Arnaldo Medeiros <a href="https://g1.globo.com/bemestar/vacina/noticia/2020/12/01/plano-de-imunizacao-so-ficara-pronto-quando-tivermos-vacina-registrada-na-anvisa-diz-secretario-do-ministerio-da-saude.ghtml">said</a> that the government will only use coronavirus vaccines that are thermostable. That would automatically rule out two promising <a href="https://brazilian.report/podcast/2020/08/05/brazil-place-in-the-race-for-a-covid-19-vaccine-podcast/">potential vaccines</a>, those of Pfizer and Moderna.</p> <ul><li>The one being developed by Pfizer — and cleared for use by UK regulators — must be kept at -70 degrees Celsius, or colder than winter in <a href="https://brazilian.report/podcast/2020/01/15/explaining-brazil-91-antarctica-brazil-icy-amazon/">Antarctica</a>. Moderna&#8217;s must be kept at -20°C. Both vaccine candidates use a new approach to unlock the body&#8217;s defenses through messenger RNA, or mRNA, to turn a patient&#8217;s cells into factories that make a particular coronavirus protein that would ignite an immune response.</li><li>&#8220;Our cold chain is assembled and established at temperatures between 2 to 8°C,&#8221; Mr. Medeiros explained.</li><li>Temperature issues, combined with President Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s <a href="https://brazilian.report/podcast/2020/10/21/podcast-electoral-calculations-around-covid-19-vaccine/">anti-China stance</a>, makes the government almost entirely reliant on the vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and British-Swedish lab AstraZeneca. Studies initially showed 90-percent efficacy rates, though results have been challenged and new trials will have to be administered, which could delay its clearance process.</li></ul> <p><strong>Legal issue.</strong> The government does not want vaccination to be mandatory, but the Supreme Court will arbitrate on the matter starting next week.</p> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> With cases and deaths spiking again — and Brazilians&#8217; reluctance to observe social isolation measures — a vaccine becomes the only way out of the crisis.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Macron&#8217;s agricultural plan a threat to Brazilian agro</h2> <p>On Tuesday, the French government launched a plan to increase the area allocated to protein-rich crops by 40 percent over the next three years — amounting to 400,000 hectares of new land. The push for self-sufficiency aims at cutting down soybean imports, especially from Brazil. &#8220;France must stop importing deforestation,&#8221; <a href="http://lesechos.fr/industrie-services/conso-distribution/julien-denormandie-la-france-doit-cesser-dimporter-de-la-deforestation-1269755">said</a> French Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie.</p> <ul><li>The country vows to spend at least EUR 100 million on research, improving conditions for crop handling and storage, as well as giving incentives to farmers who sow more of these crops.</li></ul> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> France imported over 3 million tons of soy in 2017, two-thirds of which came from Brazil.</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-hierarchy" data-src="visualisation/4537227"><script src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/embed.js"></script></div> <p><strong>Red flags.</strong> Concerns over soybean purchases from South America —&nbsp;and Brazil, more specifically — have gained steam due to these crops being linked to deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado biomes. And the move by the French government is just the latest in a series of actions that should keep Brazilian farmers worried.&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>In November, the top 8 supermarket chains in France jointly announced measures to <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-daily/2020/11/20/anti-deforestation-push-in-france-a-concern-for-brazilian-companies/">stop using products containing soy</a> grown on deforested land.</li></ul> <p><strong>Umbilical links. </strong>According to a <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/369/6501/246">July 2020 research paper</a> published in Science magazine, roughly 20 percent of soy exports and at least 17 percent of beef exports from the Amazon and Cerrado biomes to the EU may be the products of illegal deforestation.</p> <p><strong>Bottom line.</strong> The Bolsonaro administration has adopted an increasingly aggressive tone against traditional trading partners, with the belief that they depend more on Brazil than the contrary. And as Brazil becomes a less reliable partner, countries scramble to find their own solutions.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Massive government data breach exposes information of 200 million-plus citizens</h2> <p>A new security breach in the Health Ministry&#8217;s Covid-19 dashboard left personal data of more than 243 million people exposed for over six months. The number is bigger than the current Brazilian population, as it includes deceased individuals.</p> <ul><li>Last week, newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo exposed a <a href="https://brazilian.report/coronavirus-brazil-live-blog/2020/11/26/data-of-16-million-brazilians-leaked-in-health-ministry-breach/">first cybersecurity issue</a> which left data of 16 million-plus Brazilians who took Covid-19 tests accessible to anyone. This, however, is a new case.&nbsp;</li><li>Once again, the exposure was made possible because someone posted a list of usernames and passwords on source code management website GitHub, granting access to data from anyone registered in the public health system — or who has health insurance.</li></ul> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> Cybersecurity is considered to be one of the biggest national security threats of the modern world, as governments are increasingly moving online.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Poor track record.</strong> From authorities who had their emails or phones hacked, to a recent hacking of the country&#8217;s second-highest court, Brazil is proving on an almost weekly basis that it is not equipped to protect itself against cyberattacks — two years after the General Data Protection Law was approved.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>What else you need to know today</h2> <ul><li><strong>Budget.</strong> Party squabbles have <a href="https://brazilian.report/opinion/2020/11/13/why-has-brazils-lower-house-stopped-voting-on-bills/">prevented the House from voting</a> on anything meaningful since September — but the government is optimistic that discussions around the 2021 budget will advance. Government Secretary Luiz Ramos — who acts as a liaison between the government and Congress — said Senate President Davi Alcolumbre will put the Budgetary Directives Law (LDO) to vote on December 16, setting the government’s fiscal priorities for the following year. That would be step one toward passing a final budget — without which Brazil’s federal government could realistically go into <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-daily/2020/10/30/squabbles-over-2021-budget-could-throw-brazil-into-shutdown/">shutdown mode</a>.   </li><li><strong>Trade.</strong> During a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PR6Ol5Yg4gA&amp;feature=emb_title">live broadcast</a> by finance newspaper Valor, the European Union&#8217;s ambassador to Brazil, Ignacio Ybáñez, said that the <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-daily/2020/10/08/eu-parliament-slams-mercosur-trade-deal-as-it-stands/">trade deal</a> between the EU and Mercosur — made up of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay — is &#8220;on standby.&#8221; Mr. Ybáñez says European countries are awaiting <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-daily/2020/11/18/bolsonaro-wants-to-share-blame-for-amazon-deforestation/">concrete action</a> from the Brazilian government against rising deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. Just this week, official data showed that 2020 has been the worst year for Amazon destruction since 2008.</li><li><strong>Coronavirus. </strong>The second coronavirus wave in Brazil has seen a different demographic profile of patients, with younger people checking into private hospitals in São Paulo. In recent weeks, the average age for Covid-19 patients has dropped between five and ten years. Experts believe it is connected to the fact that younger people are more exposed to infections, while senior citizens have remained isolated.</li><li><strong>Indigenous rights.</strong> Supreme Court Justice Luís Roberto Barroso <a href="https://www.poder360.com.br/coronavirus/stf-da-48-h-para-governo-definir-barreiras-sanitarias-em-areas-indigenas/">gave the government 48 hours</a> to submit a plan to implement sanitary barriers to protect three indigenous lands against imported coronavirus infections. The justice suspects that the government is not respecting court orders in regards to the <a href="https://brazilian.report/society/2020/06/14/coronavirus-accelerating-genocide-brazil-indigenous-people/">protection of indigenous communities</a> during the pandemic.</li><li><strong>Eyes on the prize.</strong> Speaking with newspaper Folha de S.Paulo, São Paulo Governor João Doria <a href="https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/poder/2020/12/combate-a-covid-e-ativo-eleitoral-e-psdb-deve-sentar-na-mesa-principal-para-2022-diz-doria.shtml">admitted</a> that, if it turns out to be a success, the Chinese-made vaccine being tested in Brazil by his administration could give him nationwide projection and make him a competitive presidential contender. &#8220;I am not running for re-election [for governor],&#8221; he added, all but confirming the worst-kept secret in Brazilian politics.

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