Sao Paulo, Jun 11 (efe-epa).- Sao Paulo, Brazil’s wealthiest and most populous state, is working with a China-based laboratory to test a potential vaccine against the coronavirus, Gov. Joao Doria said Thursday.
Instituto Butantan, which is affiliated with the Sao Paulo state health department, signed an accord with Sinovac Biotech to conduct human clinical trials in Brazil of a promising formula, the governor told a press conference.
“Worldwide, this is one of the vaccines at the most advanced stage,” Doria said, calling it a “historic day for science, medicine and health.”
The Brazilian clinical trials are to begin within the next three weeks and involve 9,000 people who have volunteered to be injected with the “CoronaVac,” he said.
While there are more than 100 Covid-19 vaccines in development globally, only 10 have reached the point of being ready for human trials, Doria said.
Data from tests of CoronaVac conducted among 1,000 people in China were encouraging enough to warrant a third phase in Brazil, the governor said.
“The studies indicate that (the vaccine) will be available in the first half of 2021 – that is, by June of next year – which will allow millions of Brazilians to be immunized,” he said.
Sinovac Biotech, he said, is among the labs that “lead in the race for a vaccine” and the agreement sealed Thursday includes a provision for technology transfer benefiting Instituto Butantan.
With “the efficacy and safety of the vaccine proven, Instituto Butantan will have command of the technology and the vaccine will be able to be produced on a large scale in Brazil,” Doria said, adding that the drug will be provided free in Sao Paulo through the state health system.
He pointed to a need “to overcome Brazil’s divergences with regard to China or any other country and also with organs of international cooperation, such as the WHO (World Health Organization).”
The governor was alluding to a recent threat by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to withdraw from the WHO.
“Politicization of the virus has not saved a single in life, neither inside nor outside Brazil. It has not solved a single problem, on the contrary, it has accentuated, worsened and victimized,” Doria said.
Brazil, with nearly 780,000 confirmed infections, is second only to the United States in coronavirus cases. The giant Latin American nation has lost 39,680 lives to the disease, the third-highest toll after the US (115,547) and the United Kingdom (41,279).
Despite the alarming rate of contagion in Brazil, many jurisdictions have begun to relax the restrictions on movement and activity imposed in March to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Bolsonaro, meanwhile, continues to dismiss the disease as a “measly flu” and regularly flouts social distancing guidelines by wading unmasked into crowds of his supporters to shake hands and pose for photos. EFE nbo/dr