RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – Brazil’s Health Ministry announced Thursday that it is about to receive a shipment of 2 million doses of coronavirus vaccines from India, as public health experts warn that supply is insufficient in the nation. South American.
The vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, will pass through customs in Sao Paulo on Friday before being shipped by air to Rio de Janeiro, where Brazil’s Fiocruz Institute is located, the ministry said. Fiocruz is associated with AstraZeneca and Oxford for the distribution and production of the vaccine.
A flight from India scheduled for last week was delayed, derailing the federal government’s plan to begin inoculation with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Instead, CoronaVac was used in Sao Paulo, where the state’s Butantan Institute has an agreement with the Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac.
Neither Fiocruz nor Butantan have received the technology from their partners to produce vaccines domestically, so they must import the active ingredient.
Meanwhile, Brazilian experts expressed concern about the arrival of raw materials from Asia needed to produce vaccines for the country of 210 million people.
“Counting the doses of Butantan and those of India, there are not enough vaccines or certainty about when Brazil will have more, or how many,” Mário Scheffer, professor of preventive medicine at the University of Sao Paulo, told The Associated Press . “It will interfere with our ability in the medium term to achieve herd immunity.”
The Indian embassy in Brasilia did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the announced shipment or the cause of the delay last week.
Butantan offered 6 million doses of CoronaVac that it imported from China in order to start the vaccination campaign in Brazil and used materials imported from the Asian country to bottle an additional 4.8 million injections. The last batch has yet to be approved by the health regulator before it can be distributed to states and municipalities throughout Brazil.
The country has registered 212,000 deaths related to COVID-19, the second highest total in the world, surpassed only by the United States.