By Ricardo Brito and Eduardo Simões
BRASILIA / SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil is likely to sign a contract this week to produce a test vaccine developed by Oxford University to protect against the new coronavirus, the country’s acting health minister Eduardo Pazuello said on Tuesday.
Human clinical trials in Brazil for the possible vaccine began this weekend with 3,000 people in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Acting Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said in a hearing with lawmakers that an agreement could be signed tomorrow and that other alliances with vaccine developers could also be forged soon.
This month, Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa approved human clinical trials for the potential vaccine, developed by Oxford and backed by AstraZeneca Plc.
Brazil, where the disease is still rife, is the first country outside the UK to start testing the Oxford vaccine.
The researchers hope to launch the vaccine by the end of the year.
Brazil’s government plans to launch a massive test that reaches 24% of the country’s population, a health ministry official said during the hearing. More details on the plan are expected to be released on Wednesday.
Brazil has more than 1 million cases of COVID-19 and 51,000 deaths caused by the virus.
(Report by Ricardo Brito, in Brasilia, and Eduardo Simoes, in Sao Paulo, written by Carolina Mandl; Edited by Steve Orlofsky, Jonathan Oatis and David Gregorio)