The political battle in Brazil for the coronavirus vaccine escalates after the suspension of the trials

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President Jair Bolsonaro celebrated the brake on the investigations, a setback for his adversary Joao Doria, governor of São Paulo.

The Butantan Institute of São Paulo, the main producer of vaccines in Brazil, expressed “indignation” on Tuesday after the suspension of its clinical trials of the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine, which President Jair Bolsonaro celebrated as a “victory”, in a new chapter of the politicization of the pandemic.

Both Butantan and the São Paulo government, whose governor Joao Doria is Bolsonaro’s main political adversary, argued that the “serious adverse incident” that occurred on October 29 and that led to the suspension of the trials by the Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) was a death that has nothing to do with the vaccine.

The forensic institute of São Paulo (IML) informed the AFP agency that “the aforementioned case was registered and is being investigated as a suicide.”

An information that was not confirmed by Anvisa, whose director, Antonio Barra Torres, indicated in a press conference that the suspension decided on Monday night was for “technical reasons.”

“The information that reached us yesterday was considered insufficient, incomplete so that it would be possible to continue allowing the development of the vaccine,” said Barra Torres, without giving details of what happened. It also did not indicate when the trials could be resumed.

This Tuesday, Bolsonaro celebrated Anvisa’s decision on Facebook by responding to an intern who asked if the government would buy and produce the vaccine if the trials – currently in phase 3 – show that it is effective and safe.

“Death, disability, anomaly … this is the vaccine that Doria wanted to force the people of São Paulo to take. The president said that the vaccine could never be mandatory. Another one that Jair Bolsonaro wins,” the president wrote.

A statement that unleashed a barrage of criticism from his political adversaries, including former presidential candidate Ciro Gomes, from the center-left PDT, who said that “the jail sentence is too little for these scoundrels who make low political maneuvers with vaccines.”

Dimas Covas, president of the Butantan Institute, said in a conference on Tuesday that Anvisa’s decision had caused “surprise” and “outrage”, but that he hoped it would be quickly reversed.

“There is no relationship between the cause of death of this or this patient, with the supposed vaccine, because we do not even know if he took the vaccine or a placebo,” added Joao Gabbardo, coordinator of the Contingency center against the coronavirus of the government of São Paulo.

The Chinese laboratory Sinovac Biotech also stated that the incident in question not “related” to the vaccine and said “confident” in his safety,

CoronaVac has been the center of a political battle in Brazil between Bolsonaro and Doria, who have already fought over the quarantine measures defended by the governors and the controversial use of chloroquine promoted by the president. This drug, according to experts from around the world, does not show efficacy and, on the contrary, can cause serious adverse effects.

San Pablo has an agreement with Sinovac to acquire 46 million doses, six million produced in China and the rest, in Brazil.

Hours before the suspension of the trials was announced, Doria had indicated that the first 120,000 doses of CoronaVac were to arrive in São Paulo on November 20, and that they have already started work on a factory that will be able to produce up to 100 million doses per year.

In order to be supplied to the population, the vaccines must complete phase 3 clinical trials (to prove their efficacy and safety) and be approved by Anvisa.

The far-right president has referred to the Sinovac model as the vaccine from “that other country” and has instead promoted the one being developed by the University of Oxford with the British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which is also undergoing trials in the country. .

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