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Brazil gives final approval for AstraZeneca vaccine, sees domestic manufacture

A medical worker administers a dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in a public hospital in Brasilia

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa on Friday said it has given final approval for AstraZeneca Plc’s COVID-19 vaccine developed with Oxford University, which will be manufactured domestically by the Fiocruz biomedical institute.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is already being administered in Brazil, but is registered only for emergency use, and the doses have been imported from India.

In an online address, Anvisa director Gustavo Mendes said that the doses manufactured by Fiocruz are expected to be delivered to the Health Ministry later this month.

Confronted with a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and record deaths, the Brazilian government is trying to accelerate vaccinations, as health systems throughout the country come close to collapsing.

Brazil has ordered more than 200 million doses of the AstraZeneca and Sinovac shots, while dragging its feet on others. President Jair Bolsonaro said this week that Brazil will have 400 million vaccine doses available by the end of the year.

Less than 4% of Brazil’s 210 million residents have been inoculated against COVID-19 due to a string of missteps by the Health Ministry, which Bolsonaro has stocked with military men with little public health experience.

Mendes also said on Friday that Anvisa expects to receive test results from AstraZeneca on the efficacy of its vaccine against new variants of the virus, including P1, by June.

Preliminary studies suggest the AstraZeneca vaccine will protect against the new P1 variant, Fiocruz said on Monday, confirming a Reuters report last week.

Mendes said he sees no obstacle to approving the vaccine developed by Moderna once Anvisa receives an official registration request.

(This story has been refiled to fix media tag)

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu and Pedro Fonseca; Writing by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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