BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil, with the third worst outbreak of novel coronavirus, is still studying whether to join the COVAX Facility, a global COVID-19 vaccine allocation plan co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO), the acting health minister said on Thursday.
Eduardo Pazuello said the decision was still under consideration, speaking by videoconference at a meeting of ACT, the global alliance to accelerate development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines.
“If we opt for membership, Brazil could be the biggest contributor,” Pazuello, an active duty Army general, said.
Brazil’s was making available its “robust vaccine production capacity” and its experience with universal access to health services and vaccination of the entire population, he said.
The decision on joining COVAX is up to President Jair Bolsonaro. The deadline is Sept. 18.
One part of ACT, short for Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), is the COVAX Facility that aims to help buy and fairly distribute vaccine shots when they become available.
More than 70 nations have so far committed to joining, agreeing to procure COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX for their populations. The United States said last week that it would not join because the Trump administration objects to WHO involvement.
COVAX’s aim is to procure and deliver 2 billion doses of approved vaccines by the end of 2021. It has nine COVID-19 vaccine candidates in its portfolio that employ a range of different technologies and scientific approaches.
Brazil has registered more than 4.2 million novel coronavirus cases, the worst outbreak after the United States and India. The death toll stands at 129,522.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; editing by Grant McCool)