The Brazilian government will have a new round of negotiations with the British pharmaceutical company Astrazeneca, which is developing a partnership with the University of Oxford to seek a vaccine against the coronavirus in mid-December. On this occasion, the details of the product’s technology transfer to Brazil, which will be manufactured by Fiocruz, will be dealt with, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. Knowledge transfer tends to be complete, according to them.
In August, the Brazilian government and the company formally met to sign a vaccine delivery agreement for the country and, in the following month, a contract was closed between the parties. At the time, it was agreed that Brazil would receive the first batch of vaccines already ready, a total of 15 million doses, directly from Astrazeneca between the end of this year and the beginning of 2021. “Initially, the forecast was to deliver this first batch until the end of the year, but fearing not to meet tight deadlines because of logistics and challenges that may appear along the way, the company committed to supply until January next year, which can be done even a little earlier “, explained the source accompanying the process.
The agreement reached with the Brazilian government is to deliver 15 million doses per month until July, when the total of 100 million units ordered by the Ministry of Health should be reached. Only at the end of 2021 does Fiocruz, responsible for domestic tip of receiving doses in this contract with the British company, may be able to manufacture the vaccines independently. Astrazeneca and Fiocruz, together, will be responsible for the initial strategy of distribution of vaccines, and registration of them at Anvisa, for example.
The contract on the transfer of knowledge to local production, however, has not yet been closed between the parties. The Ministry of Health, according to the report, had doubts in closing the first part of the agreement – about the initial delivery. Among them was precisely changing the deadline from December to January, which has already been defined. Another was in relation to technology transfer. The Brazilian government wanted to have more details in the contract discussed in August and closed in September, but it was not possible to resolve them at the time. “This is not how it works. The transfer will take place, but this conversation has been postponed to December,” explained the source, recalling that a period of 90 days was formalized after the closing of the first memorandum of understanding for a new round of negotiations.
The expectation is that in the last month of the year Astrazeneca itself will have more details about the progress of its production and logistics. With agreements signed with several governments around the world, the preparation of doses by the company has already started even before the certification that the vaccine will be efficient. It is because of the contracts with the countries that the company has been able to start its production, which will initially be sold at cost. So far, the survey results have been identified as “promising”. One of the most recent commemorations of the work of the Oxford-Astrazeneca partner was the immunological response of the application made to the elderly, released this week. “Good news is coming, but we have to wait for the final test results,” said the source.
The Oxford vaccine is one of those that is already going through step 3, that is, it is in one of the most advanced stages of the development process. One of the points that can speed up the process is the recruitment of volunteers for experiments. In the case of this pharmaceutical company, there are 10,000 volunteers in Brazil, 10,000 in the United Kingdom, where the company is headquartered, and others spread across other countries. Half of the people participating in the project receive the vaccine and half, a placebo.
It is now verified who will be infected by covid-19 between the two groups. “If the virus is moving, we will find that out quickly,” said the source. Although rates have dropped in Brazil recently, the assessment is that coronavirus circulation in the country is still high enough to make the comparison.
By the government, the negotiations were headed by the executive secretary of the Ministry of Health, Élcio Franco, number 2 of the Ministry. Before the negotiations to close an agreement between the parties, Minister Eduardo Pazuello had initial talks on the topic with representatives of Astrazeneca and the British government. Technicians from the Ministry of Economy and Itamaraty also participated in this approximation round in May.