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AstraZeneca says Brazil may get Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine by end of the year if trials succeed

AstraZeneca director Jorge Mazzei said on Monday that he believes Brazil will get the coronavirus vaccine developed by the Oxford University by the end of this year if the experimental jab proves successful. Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 made from a weakened and non-replicating version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) and has been engineered to express the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is one of the most promising candidates against COVID-19.

The vaccine is being tested on more than 5,000 health care workers in Brazil since last week. It may be noted that on 2nd June, Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (ANVISA) approved the inclusion of Brazil in the clinical trials being conducted in partnership with AstraZeneca. Apart from Oxford, China National Biotec Group (CNBG) has also started phase 3 clinical trials of its inactivated COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the United Arab Emirates.

 

On Monday, Mazzei told reporters that the South American nation is close to a deal for the coronavirus vaccine, although there are still key items to be negotiated and the document was actually a letter of intent. His comments came two days after Brazil’s government announced a deal with Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to get up to 100 million doses of the vaccine, reported PTI.

Mazzei said he believes Brazil will get the vaccine at the end of 2020 if the vaccine works, adding that he has just had the first call with local partners Fiocruz and will start working on a contract on Tuesday.

“It is nearly impossible that this contract is not signed, Mazzei said. It took two to three weeks for the letter of intent to be signed. Our goal is that this contract is signed as quickly as possible,” he was quoted as saying.

Brazil’s health authorities had said on Saturday that the country will pay USD 127 million to start producing initial 30.4 million doses in two batches in December and January. They added if the vaccine is certified to be safe and effective, the inoculation efforts would start quickly.

According to the Brazilian government, the total deal is for 100 million doses for a country of about 210 million residents.

"I trust there is a strategy (of the Brazilian government) on how to vaccinate all the people," AstraZeneca’s director added. Mazzei said there are key elements to be negotiated, including the extent of the transfer of technology and the second purchase of 70 million doses. He said other countries already have deals at this stage, but says Brazil is surely in the same wave of the first countries to get the shot.

High-risk groups such as the elderly, people with comorbidities and health and security professionals would be the first to get the vaccine.

Brazil has reported more than 1.2 million cases of COVID-19 with almost 58,000 deaths from the virus. Worldwide, at least 502,599 people have now lost their lives to coronavirus pandemic.

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