Brazil: private clinics seek agreement for Indian vaccine against Covid

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#Rio de #Janeiro (AFP)

A #Brazilian association of private health clinics said on #Sunday it was negotiating with #Indian pharmaceutical company #Bharat #Biotech to purchase five million doses of its #Covid-19 vaccine, which #India has just cleared for emergency use.

The #Brazilian #Association of #Vaccination #Clinics (ABCVAC) confirmed on its website that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the #Indian firm for the purchase of its #Covaxin vaccine, which is currently in the final stages of clinical trials.

#Any final deal would be subject to approval by #Brazilian health regulator #Anvisa, which has yet to approve vaccines against the novel coronavirus.

The government of far-right #President #Jair #Bolsonaro has come under increasing criticism for dragging its feet in a vaccination campaign in #Brazil, which has the second-highest death toll from the pandemic, after the #United #States.

#This has left some state governments, and now the private sector, to scramble to try and launch vaccination campaigns on their own.

ABCVAC described its planned deal with #Bharat #Biotech as a way to ensure that #Brazilians using the private health system – usually the wealthy – have access to a vaccine, even if the government reserves its own initial doses for the public health system and priority groups such as health workers and the elderly.

“We were looking for solutions for the private market and the possibility arose to use this #Indian vaccine, which is very promising,” ABCVAC president #Geraldo #Barbosa told #Globo #News television channel.

“This is an additional sale that will not interfere with the amount of vaccine doses the government has ordered. ”

ABCVAC representatives will travel to #India on #Monday to continue negotiations, the association said.

#He said his clinics could start vaccinating people by the second half of #March, pending the conclusion of clinical trials and regulatory approval for #Anvisa.

#India approved vaccines from #Bharat and the #British #University of #Oxford earlier #Sunday for “restricted use in emergency situations”, although the former is still in testing.

The country has set an ambitious goal of vaccinating 300 million of its 1.3 billion inhabitants by the middle of the year.

#Brazil is struggling to get its vaccination campaign off the ground, amid political wrangling and skepticism over #Bolsonaro’s vaccines.

The president regularly flouts expert advice on containing the pandemic and says he does not plan to get himself vaccinated against #Covid-19.

The government has secured 100 million doses of the #Oxford vaccine, but has yet to set a start date, obtain regulatory approval, or acquire the necessary syringes.

The #Brazilian #Ministry of #Health is to announce the start date of its vaccination campaign on #Monday.

#Earlier #Sunday, #Anvisa cleared the import of the first two million doses of the vaccine from #Oxford, pending approval for their use.

– “#Intolerable” delays in vaccination –

#But many accuse the government of waiting too long.

The situation has become “intolerable,” #Supreme #Court #Justice #Gilmar #Mendes said in a scathing tweet.

“Neighboring countries have already started their vaccination campaigns. There is an urgent need to set a timetable to do the same. #Ignorance should not prevail over science, ”he wrote.

There are warning signs of the resurgence of the virus in #Brazil.

#Experts say the country of 212 million people is hit by a second wave, and areas that once seemed to have brought the virus under control are again facing a wave of cases and deaths.

#This includes the state of the #Amazon rainforest of # #Amazonas, whose capital, #Manaus, was devastated by the virus last year, with haunting scenes of mass graves and corpses piled into refrigerated trucks.

#After a lull in cases in the second half of 2020 – leading some experts to question whether so many people had been infected that the city achieved “herd immunity” – the virus is exploding again in the region.

#With its morgues overwhelmed, #Manaus has again deployed refrigerated trucks outside hospitals to store corpses. A judge on #Saturday ordered the ##Amazonas government to shut down all non-essential businesses and activities for 15 days to slow the spread of the virus.

#Brazil has recorded more than 196,000 deaths from #Covid-19.

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