Brazil hopes to use veterinary facilities to increase COVID-19 vaccine output, authorities said on Saturday, as the country accounts for the world’s worst daily death tolls and its vaccination efforts lag.
Brazil already makes or finishes coronavirus vaccines at its two main public health institutes, although those efforts have not been enough to supply Latin America’s largest nation.
Marcelo Queiroga, Brazil’s fourth health minister since the pandemic began, said he hoped to include veterinary facilities that make vaccines for pets.
“This is not just to supply the internal market and increase our capacity but also for Brazil, as a leader in Latin America, can offer its vaccines to other countries,” Queiroga told reporters.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has been widely criticized for his handling of the pandemic, for downplaying the severity of the virus, to undermining social distancing efforts and lockdowns. As Brazil has come to have the world’s worst daily COVID-19 death tolls, Bolsonaro is making a bigger push to secure vaccines, including asking the United States for spare doses.
Brazil’s Fiocruz Institute has a partnership with AstraZeneca Plc to manufacture its vaccine, while the Butantan Institute has a similar partnership with China’s Sinovac Biotech to make CoronaVac.
Butantan has also separately developed a vaccine of its own that is going through early-stage studies.
Queiroga did not get into specifics, such as the capacity of veterinary facilities and whether any initiative would require pharma companies to waive intellectual property rights.
On Saturday, Brazil registered 1,987 new COVID-19 deaths, the health ministry said, bringing the total to 330,193. Deaths now total 330,193. Cases rose by 43,515, the ministry said, and now total 12,953,597.