BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s federal government will purchase 46 million doses of the CoronaVac vaccine being developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd, a state governor said on Wednesday, as authorities rush to source vaccines in a sometimes-confusing free-for-all.
Wellington Dias, the leftist governor of the northeast state of Piaui, said Brazilian Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello told him of the federal government’s plan to purchase the vaccine, which is being produced at the Instituto Butantan, a biomedical center in Sao Paulo state.
He told journalists he saw a copy of a production and delivery contract during a meeting with Pazuello, adding that 9 million doses are set to be delivered on Jan. 25.
In a statement, the Instituto Butantan said it had sent a proposal on Wednesday to provide the vaccine in response to a request from the Health Ministry.
The Health Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Pazuello had previously said in October that the government planned to purchase 46 million doses of CoronaVac, but Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, quickly said Pazuello was mistaken.
The right-wing leader, a China critic, has frequently ridiculed the CoronaVac vaccine, saying it is untrustworthy because of its “origin.”
So far, the federal government’s main bet has been on the vaccine being produced by AstraZeneca PLC.
Bolsonaro’s stance has provoked significant tension with political enemy Joao Doria, the governor of Sao Paulo and a likely rival in the 2022 presidential election, who has made a huge bet on CoronaVac and has said the state’s residents will start receiving the vaccine on Jan. 25.
(Reporting by Gabriel Ponte; Additional reporting by Pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Sam Holmes)