SAO PAULO (AP) – Brazilian health authorities on Tuesday began a three-month trial of a new coronavirus vaccine produced by the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac, one of the few companies in the world that is in the final stages of vaccine tests to demonstrate its effectiveness.
If the vaccine is safe and effective, Brazil will receive 120 million doses from China early next year, which will allow the vaccination of 30 million Brazilians, Dimas Covas, president of the Butantan Institute, which coordinates the study.
It is one of nearly twenty potential vaccines that are in various stages of human testing worldwide.
The strong transmission rates of COVID-19 in Brazil make it useful for testing, since the widespread presence of the new coronavirus would demonstrate that the potential vaccine works. The federal health ministry reported Monday that Brazil has registered more than 2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 80,120 deaths.
Brazil is also assisting in the testing of a coronavirus vaccine produced by an association of the University of Oxford and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. Additionally, federal authorities authorized tests on Tuesday of a third vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech.
The Sinovac tests – to be carried out on 9,000 volunteers, all health professionals, in six Brazilian states – are being coordinated by Butantan, a scientific institute in the state of Sao Paulo that has been producing vaccines for more than a century.
Half of the volunteers will receive two doses of the vaccine starting this week, while the other half will receive two doses of a placebo.
The Associated Press journalist Daniel Carvalho in Brasilia contributed to this report.