Brasilia, May 13 (EFE).- Pfizer Inc.’s top executive for Latin America told Brazilian senators Thursday that President Jair Bolsonaro’s government never responded to an offer that would have seen 1.5 million doses of the US drug-maker’s Covid-19 vaccine reach the South American nation last December.
Contacts between Pfizer and Brasilia began in May 2020, Carlos Murillo said in testimony to a Senate committee investigating the right-wing president’s handling of the pandemic, which has claimed more than 425,000 lives in Brazil.
Only the United States, where fatalities are approaching 597,000, has suffered greater loss of life in the pandemic.
Early in August 2020, Murillo said, Pfizer offered Brazil a total of 30 million doses of the vaccine, then still under development, with 500,000 doses to be delivered in December.
By the end of August, Pfizer said it could provide Brazil with 70 million doses beginning with an initial consignment of 1.5 million doses in December, the executive said.
The second offer was valid for 15 days and the deadline passed without any response from Brazil, Murillo said, adding that Pfizer followed up in September with a letter to Bolsonaro reiterating the company’s interest in supplying Brazil with vaccine.
That letter eventually led to a meeting in December between Pfizer representatives and the then-press secretary of the Bolsonaro administration, Fabio Wajngarten, who disclosed the existence of the missive Wednesday in his appearance before the Senate committee.
Murillo said that Wajngarten was accompanied at the meeting by the president’s son, Rio de Janeiro city councilman Carlos Bolsonaro, and presidential adviser Filipe Martins, among others.
On March 19, Brazil and Pfizer finally agreed to a deal for 100 million vaccine doses.
The panel’s chair, Renan Calheiros, stressed that Brazil’s Covid-19 death toll stood at 194,000 in December, going on to note that vaccination did not get under way until the middle of January, using a vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac. EFE