SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil’s Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga asked representatives of pharmaceutical firm Pfizer Inc if they can speed up delivery of 50 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, according to a statement from the ministry on Monday.
The Brazilian government previously ordered 100 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine.
COVID-19 has killed more than 312,000 people in Brazil and more than 12.5 million have been diagnosed with the respiratory disease, according to health ministry data. Only the United States has reported more deaths and cases.
“We need to expand our vaccination capacity now,” Queiroga told Pfizer, according to the statement. “I invite you to make joint efforts to ensure these vaccines [arrive] as soon as possible,” he told the company.
Queiroga met with Pfizer’s Brazil Chief Executive Marta Diez and other representatives of the drug maker to discuss the schedule for deliveries of the vaccine.
Pfizer has previously said it plans to start delivering doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the Brazilian government between April and May.
Under an initial delivery plan foreseen in the contract, the Health Ministry will receive 13.5 million doses in the second quarter and 86.5 million in the third quarter, according to the ministry’s statement.
(Reporting by Eduardo Simões; Writing by Ana Mano; Editing by Dan Grebler)