Brazil in talks to buy 100 million more Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine doses

Brazil had already closed one deal for 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine produced with German partner BioNTech SE. — Reuters pic
Brazil had already closed one deal for 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine produced with German partner BioNTech SE. — Reuters pic

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BRASILIA, April 21 — Brazil is in talks to buy another 100 million doses of Pfizer Inc’s Covid-19 vaccine, Communications Minister Fabio Faria said yesterday, as the country scrambles to procure more shots after a sluggish start to its vaccination programme.

“The negotiation started about 20 days ago and the (government) is seeking to speed up the process,” he wrote on Twitter.

Brazil is one of the current epicentres of the coronavirus pandemic, driven by a new highly transmissible virus variant, a slow and patchy vaccine rollout and uneven restrictions to help curb the pathogen’s spread.

Brazil recorded 69,381 new cases of coronavirus and 3,321 new Covid-19 deaths, the Health Ministry said yesterday. That takes Brazil’s death toll to 378,003, the second highest in the world after the United States. Total confirmed cases now stand at 14.04 million.

President Jair Bolsonaro’s government has come under fire for failing to ensure vaccine supplies fast enough. If the deal is signed, the new supply of 100 million doses would begin to be delivered at the end of the year, in order to secure supplies for next year’s immunisation drive, a source with direct knowledge of the subject said.

Brazil had already closed one deal for 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine produced with German partner BioNTech SE . The first delivery of that order is due to arrive next week. Between April and June, a total of 15.5 million Pfizer/BioNTech doses are due to arrive, the Health Ministry said.

Separately, Pfizer said yesterday  that Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa had authorised the vaccine to be stored at minus-20 degrees Celsius (minus-4F) for up to two weeks, which will facilitate logistics across the large tropical nation.

The Pfizer vaccine has a shelf life of six months when stored at minus-75C (minus-103F), which represents a logistical challenge in Brazil as it requires specialised freezers. By comparison, vaccines already used in Brazil against Covid-19 — Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac and AstraZeneca’s shot — can be stored at temperatures of 2C to 8C. — Reuters

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