(Rio de Janeiro) Brazil announced on Saturday that it has reached an agreement to produce up to 100 million doses of a possible coronavirus vaccine that is being worked on by the British University of Oxford.
This experimental vaccine, on which the university is working with the pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca, is one of the most promising among the dozens of vaccines being developed worldwide. Under the terms of the agreement, worth US $ 127 million, the Brazilian government’s public health institute, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), will acquire the technology and equipment needed to produce the vaccine, which is tested in the UK and South Africa as well as in Brazil itself.
According to the secretary general of the Brazilian Ministry of Health, Elcio Franco, this agreement will give Brazil a decisive advantage if the vaccine proves to be effective and safe. This transfer of technology will give us production autonomy,” he said at a press conference. “Brazil is trying to avoid being in a situation like that of the beginning of the pandemic, where high demand has prevented us from accessing certain equipment and medicines. And so, we avoid having to pay the exorbitant profit margins that apply during a pandemic, “he added.
The agreement gives Brazil the right to produce an initial quantity of 30.4 million doses in December and January, when the vaccine is still in the testing phase. The $ 127 million includes $ 30 million for rights to access vaccine technology and the manufacturing process, Brazilian officials said. If the vaccine passes clinical trials, Brazil will have the right to produce an additional 70 million doses at an estimated cost of $ 2.30 per dose. Even if clinical testing is unsuccessful, our (vaccine production) technology will make progress,” said an official at the Ministry of Health, Arnaldo Correia de Medeiros.
The potential vaccine, called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, started to be administered to volunteers this week in Brazil. The first volunteers are healthcare professionals, highly exposed to the virus, including doctors, nurses, and paramedics, all between the ages of 18 and 55.
In total, nearly 2,000 Brazilian volunteers are expected to participate in the tests.
Brazil was chosen because it is one of the countries where the virus is spreading the fastest. It has the second highest number of cases and deaths in the world after the United States (more than 1.2 million people infected and 55,000 deaths, according to the latest official figure).
Experts estimate that these figures are underestimated in a country of 212 million people due to relatively limited screening.