Brazil to receive first doses of China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine this week

The temporary halt had no affect on the clinical trials, says Butantan Institute chief

BRASILIA – Brazil’s Butantan Institute biomedical center will receive the first doses of China’s Sinovac vaccine against COVID-19 this week, institute director Dimas Covas said on Tuesday.

Covas told a congressional committee monitoring Brazil’s COVID-19 response that preliminary results of the trials Butantan is conducting in Brazil indicate the vaccine, called CoronaVac, has an excellent safety profile.

He said Butantan expects to have 46 million doses ready in January pending approval of the vaccine by Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa.

Covas said 10,000 volunteers have already received about 19,000 shots of the two-dose vaccine, and another 2,000 people have still to be included in the trials, conducted at 16 centers linked to Brazilian universities.

Anvisa suspended the trials for a day and a half last week after the death of a volunteer, which police reported as a suicide and Butantan said had no relation to the vaccine.

The temporary halt had no affect on the clinical trials, Covas said, adding that Butantan has a “very good understanding” with the head of Anvisa, Antonio Barra Torres, who also testified before the committee.

Butantan and Anvisa have sent experts to China where they are in a two-week quarantine before they can visit vaccine facilities, they said.

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