Public criticisms by Jair Bolsonaro’s management of Pfizer’s proposal to sell covid-19 vaccines were seen by experts as a testament to the inability to set up a comprehensive and efficient immunization plan. The fear now is that the war of narratives will alienate other pharmacists from whom the Ministry of Health could still obtain more doses, at a time of high cases and deaths.
Eduardo Pazuello’s portfolio released a note on Saturday accusing Pfizer of seeking “marketing” in the negotiation and indicated points that, in the government’s view, weighed against the agreement with the American pharmaceutical company. These obstacles are contested by experts. Pfizer does not comment. The succession of government messes in the pandemic led parties to discuss the impeachment of the President of the Republic.
One of the reasons cited by the portfolio is the fact that Pfizer only waved two million doses in the first quarter. “For Brazil, it would cause frustration,” said Saúde, “because we would have, with few doses, to choose, in a continental country with more than 212 million inhabitants, who would be the ones chosen to receive the vaccine”, he continued.
But Pazuello went to Guarulhos Airport last Friday to receive the same amount of doses of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine that the ministry imported from India to speed up immunization, after São Paulo Governor João Doria (PSDB) left at ahead with Coronavac.
In 2020, the government even negotiated with Pfizer 70 million doses for 2021, but the purchase did not advance and Brazil lost place in the queue, despite warnings from the pharmaceutical company for high demand. “Two million doses (from Pfizer) were little in September, (but) Friday recreated a ‘light source’ and a ‘bandstand’ to receive the same dosage (from Oxford”, criticized epidemiologist Paulo Lotufo, from USP, on twitter.
“A conscious decision was made. They did not negotiate, but they did not anticipate that this would generate much criticism ”, says Insper professor and doctor of Economics Thomas Conti. “My biggest concern is that shifting responsibility to the laboratory may alienate other suppliers. The government politicized the relationship with Pfizer. ”
The Pfizer vaccine has complex logistics, as it needs to be stored between 70 ° C to 80 ° C negative. Lotufo, however, listed measures that would allow taking the doses, such as sending lots of vaccine to capitals in the North and making applications in hangars and airport rooms, emptied in the pandemic. For him, this plan would dispense with “superfreezers”, since the doses would come out of the thermal box directly to people’s arms. “If (sending the
doses) occurred in December, today the catastrophe would be minimized in the North ”, he wrote.
Carla Domingues, epidemiologist and head of the National Immunization Program (PNI) from 2011 to 2019, says it is difficult to evaluate the contract, as the full text has not been released, to see if there are “leonine and abusive clauses”, as Saúde says. questions the fact that we are the only country having a problem negotiating with Pfizer, while Americans and Europeans bought. “The difficulty is because Brazil did not plan for this vaccine, which is extremely complex.”
Conti still sees inconsistencies in the government’s speech: obstacles such as the absence of the diluent (which would be common saline) and replacement of dry ice to keep bottles at the correct temperature would be resolved with planning. Regarding exempting the manufacturer from civil liability in case of adverse effects, he says that this clause has existed for decades in developed countries, including for other vaccines, and is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In the United States, the National Vaccine Damage Compensation Program has existed since 1988 and compensates those who eventually suffer side effects after taking vaccines covered by the fund (such as diphtheria, tetanus and hepatitis A and B). From 2006 to 2018, 3.7 billion doses were applied, and only 5,317 compensations paid.
The fund, says Conti, was created after an anti-vaccine wave has increased actions against pharmaceuticals, discouraging manufacturing and reducing the supply of immunizers. For him, Brazil could create a similar fund. The information is from the newspaper The State of S. Paulo.