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LatinNews Daily - 07 January 2021

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BRAZIL: Gov’t stands by Covid-19 vaccination plan

On 6 January, Brazil’s federal health minister Eduardo Pazuello declared that the country is prepared in “financial, organisational, and logistical terms” to execute its national immunisation plan against the coronavirus (Covid-19). 


Pazuello has been coming under growing pressure from state governors and other local-level authorities to present a clear start date and timeline for vaccinations, something which the government’s ‘National Covid-19 Vaccine Operationalisation Plan’, presented with great fanfare on 16 December 2020, does not include. Adding to worries over the government’s lack of preparation are concerns that it has put all of its eggs in one basket, betting solely on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and failed to guarantee a supply of medical equipment such as syringes. Pazuello’s address on national television yesterday, his first since he became health minister, will have done little to allay such concerns.

  • “I can assure that all states and municipalities will receive the vaccine in a simultaneous and egalitarian way, proportional to their population”, Pazuello said yesterday, while reaffirming that the vaccine will be free and optional, and refuting concerns that the government has failed to guarantee sufficient stock of vaccines and syringes.
  • Pazuello said that Brazil had 354m vaccine doses guaranteed in 2021: 254m doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, to be produced by the Rio de Janeiro-based Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz); and 100m doses of Chinese firm Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine (previously spurned by the federal government), to be produced by the São Paulo-based Instituto Butantan.
  • Pazuello added that the health ministry is in discussions with other vaccine providers, including US firms Pfizer and Moderna, Russia’s Gamaleya, and India’s Bharat Biotech.
  • No vaccine has yet been licensed in Brazil, however. Shortly after Pazuello’s address, President Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree (MP) aimed at speeding up the vaccine-buying process, notably authorising their purchase before they have been licensed by the federal health regulator (Anvisa).

Looking Ahead: Pazuello once again failed to give a vaccination start date, although he insisted that the country is ready to start vaccinating its population in January and said that Brazil would “soon” be exporting vaccines to neighbouring countries.