Brazil is well positioned for access to covid-19 vaccines

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If ongoing clinical tests prove the efficacy of vaccines against covid-19, Brazil is well positioned to obtain doses already next year, says professor at the Federal University of Goiás (UFG) Cristiana Toscano, who is part of the Consultative Group Strategy of Immunization Specialists (SAGE) of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The researcher explained that agreements already signed by the federal government and the state of São Paulo give alternatives to the country, but warns that it is necessary to hurry in planning to prepare the more than 30 thousand vaccination posts of the Unified Health System (SUS).

“In Brazil, we have a situation that I consider quite privileged, because we have bilateral mechanisms and Brazil’s involvement in Covax, which is a multilateral mechanism”, said the epidemiologist, who participated in the National Immunization Day, promoted by Brazilian Society of Immunizations. “We are well positioned from the point of view of access and the possibility and real expectation of having some vaccines already in 2021.”

Consortium

Last month, Brazil confirmed its participation in the Covax consortium, organized by the WHO to guarantee access to immunization worldwide. The fund expects to raise US $ 18 billion with the investment of 80 countries considered to be self-financing, such as Brazil, to supply the vaccines to these and another 92 countries that would not be able to manufacture or buy the doses.

With the adhesion, the country will invest around R $ 2.5 billion and hopes to acquire a portfolio that, until then, has nine vaccines under development, to guarantee the protection of 10% of the population by the end of 2021.

Bilateral agreements

In bilateral agreements, the country contracted the technology transfer of a British and a Chinese vaccine. The federal government signed an agreement with the developers of AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford for the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation to nationalize the production of the vaccine, which is in the last phase of clinical tests in several countries, including Brazil. The Oxford vaccine is also one of nine vaccines that make up the Covax portfolio.

In addition, the state government of São Paulo and the Butantan Institute signed an agreement for testing and transferring technology for the national production of the vaccine under development by the Chinese laboratory Sinovac.

Planning

Cristiana Toscano pointed out that, due to the pandemic, investments in production had to be anticipated, which implies the risk that vaccines will not be proven effective. As well as tests and regulatory processes, the researcher points out that planning to make vaccines arrive at the health centers also needs to be streamlined from the local to the national level, because there is a horizon for the start of immunization in the first months of the year. comes.

“You don’t have to wait. You don’t have a moment to say ‘now let’s start’. The now is already. We are working with an optimistic and hopeful forecast. If, in fact, in this preliminary assessment in December, these vaccines demonstrate efficacy and safety, the forecast is that between February and March, at the latest, it will indeed be possible to start vaccination. We are talking about a very short time to prepare everything for a vaccination of such scale and tremendous importance ”.

In September, the federal government instituted an interministerial working group to coordinate the acquisition and distribution of vaccines “with proven quality, efficacy and safety” against the new coronavirus.

The planning, however, had already begun, as presented by the Secretary of Health Surveillance of the Ministry of Health, Arnaldo Correia, in the External Commission of the Chamber of Deputies destined to accompany the confrontation with the pandemic.

The researcher recognizes that there are still many gaps that impact planning, such as confirmation of the number of doses per person, the effectiveness in each population group and the duration of immunity. To equip government officials, WHO developed models to simulate scenarios that help in decision making, which includes which groups to prioritize to reduce mortality, the occurrence of serious cases or the preservation of the health system, for example.

“The good news is that, regarding this issue [mutabilidade do vírus], for the vaccine against covid, there seems to be no need for a new vaccination by mutation of circulating virus “, evaluates the researcher, who points out another challenge:” It will be a different vaccination from the usual campaigns. It shouldn’t be aimed at children, but at groups different from what we’re used to ”.

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