BRASILIA (Reuters) – The first batch of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate will arrive in Brazil between January and February next year, Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said on Wednesday, with 100 million doses to arrive in the first half of 2021.
Speaking with lawmakers, Pazuello said the government had released funds to the Fiocruz biomedical institute in Rio de Janeiro, which will receive supplies from the company and eventually produce the vaccine locally.
“To leave things clear, in January or February, 15 million doses … will start to arrive,” he said. “By the first half of the year, we will be at 100 million doses. In the second half, with the technology transfer ready, we will be able to manufacture 160 million more doses, so just there we have 260 million doses.”
Although officials say they can start making COVID-19 vaccines within a year, experts say it will take at least twice as long, which could leaving Brazil reliant on imports.
The deal with AstraZeneca requires the federal government to buy 30 million doses of the company’s vaccine at a cost of $97 million. It also gives Brazil priority to buy 70 million more doses if the vaccine works.
As part of the deal, AstraZeneca will also transfer technology so Brazil can eventually produce the vaccine domestically.
(Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; writing by Gabriel Stargardter; editing by Mark Potter)