BRASILIA (Reuters) – Pfizer Inc said on Wednesday it had offered to provide Brazil with millions of doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in the first half of 2021, amid evidence the coronavirus is spreading more rapidly in South America’s largest country.
“Pfizer made a proposal to the Brazilian government, in line with deals we closed in other countries – including in Latin America, that would permit the vaccination of millions of Brazilians in the first half, subject to regulatory approval,” the company said in a statement.
Brazil has the third-worst outbreak of coronavirus in the world by number of cases, after the United States and India.
On Tuesday, the Imperial College London released data showing that the rate of infection in Brazil had accelerated to 1.1, meaning every 100 people with coronavirus infect 110 people. That is the first time in weeks the figure has been above one.
Brazil’s Health Ministry said it met with Pfizer on Tuesday and would buy the vaccine if proven safe and if health regulator Anvisa registered it. The ministry said it will also meet this week with Johnson & Johnson <J&J.N>, India’s Bharat Biotech and the makers of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine as it draws up immunization plans.
Anvisa has signed off on rules to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine approvals, according to a notice published in the government gazette on Wednesday.
The new rules allow labs to present data to Anvisa continuously as it is generated rather than waiting for all documentation to be complete. Regulatory impact analyses and public consultations that are normally required will also be waived.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle, Jake Spring, Lisandra Paraguassu and Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Tom Brown)