‘Political contamination’ of vaccination against Covid-19 may hinder national immunization campaign, says infectologist | Sao Paulo


The “political contamination” of vaccination against the new coronavirus can hinder the population’s understanding of the importance of immunization and compromise the national campaign in Brazil, points out the infectologist Renato Kfouri, director of the Brazilian Immunization Society.

This Wednesday (14), the Ministry of Health presented the schedule for vaccination against Covid-19 considering only the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford. According to the Health Secretary of the São Paulo government, Jean Gorinchteyn, the federal government did not release money for the purchase of the CoronaVac vaccine, developed by the China company Sinovac in partnership with the Butantan Institute.

The government of São Paulo tries to negotiate so that the Chinese CoronaVac receives federal funds to be distributed by SUS, if the effectiveness in the third phase of tests is proven.

In an interview with GloboNews this Thursday (15), specialist Renato Kfouri defended the need for investment in a unified communication, supported by science, about the vaccine approval process and the national campaign, to guarantee security to the population.

“The political contamination of this discussion does not really help, it hinders, and I hope that with vaccination we will have better communication with the population than we have had so far in relation to treatment, in relation to preventive measures.

“Otherwise, we will have difficulties in vaccinating our population due to distrust of one vaccine, another, from a xenophobic political party. This is perhaps going to be a big problem for us to face,” concluded the expert.

For Kfouri, the context of the pandemic in Brazil requires expanding the possibilities of immunizations and agreements.

“If we have opportunities to have bilateral or multilateral agreements with producers, that will only help us. It will help to have a wider range of vaccines, options, different quantities, possibly with different profiles of safety and efficacy results. The time is not to eliminate, or to despise, or not to count. We have to group more suppliers and increase our range of opportunities “, says the specialist.

The doctor also points out that science is the one who should guide the decisions of government officials and public health programs, and not the other way around.

“Whenever politics enters health, and we have seen several examples in different countries, this goes against what science would like”, he ponders.

However, he does not believe that the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) could hamper the progress of testing and approval of the Chinese vaccine because of political clashes between Governor Joao Doria (PSDB) and President Jair Bolsonaro.

“I do not believe that Anvisa, an extremely serious body, internationally recognized, with a history in this country of trust in its decisions, of absolute transparency and clarity, will have some kind of problem.”

The São Paulo government signed a contract with the Chinese to receive 46 million doses of CoronaVac by December.

The forecast is that the total will reach 60 million by February 2021 and the expectation was that, with the federal government’s money, the total could reach 100 million.

The governor of SP, João Doria, the director of the Butantan Institute, Dimas Covas, and representative of the Sinovac laboratory during the signing of an agreement at the Palácio dos Bandeirantes – Photo: Reproduction / TV Globo

Jean Gorinchteyn affirms that the government is still negotiating for the money to be released and that Doria should go to Brasília to talk directly with the Minister of Health, Eduardo Pazuello.

“We will receive these 60 million, there will be 61 million doses by the end of February, with the possibility of having another 40 million by May. These 61 million doses are guaranteed. The rest, to reach 100 million, is that the acquisition by Butantan became unviable, due to an economic issue “, he explained.

Asked what the state intends to do if the federal government maintains its position not to buy doses of CoronaVac, Gorinchteyn said there is a plan for immunization to be carried out at the state level.

“We have an immunization plan for the state, if that happens. But I reinforce, this is not what we want. We want the vaccine to be from Brazil, not São Paulo. We would like to extend this vaccine to Brazilians and we would like to put it through the Unified Health System to be distributed in the national immunization program “, he said.

The agreement for the purchase of 46 million doses was signed by Doria and Weining Meng, director of the Sinovac laboratory, during a press conference at Palácio dos Bandeirantes. At the same event, the governor announced that vaccination of health professionals should start on December 15.

The Coronavac vaccine is still being tested among Brazilian health professionals. Yet, 7 thousand volunteers have already participated in the research, according to the director of the Butantan Institute, Dimas Covas. The goal is to involve 13 thousand people in the research.

Regarding the amount paid by the state of SP to Sinovac, Doria said that the signed contract is for 90 million dollars. By December, the pharmaceutical company will send 6 million doses of the vaccine already ready, while another 40 million will be filled in São Paulo, according to the government.

Government of SP signs contract for the purchase of 46 million doses of Chinese vaccine

However, the governor did not clarify whether this figure relates only to the purchase of the 46 million doses that should arrive in 2020, or if it also includes doses that should be delivered only in 2021. Doria also did not say whether the value of 90 million dollars adds to the R $ 85 million that, in June, the state government declared that it had paid for the agreement.

Vaccine for all Brazilians

The governor of São Paulo has already promised that the entire population of the state will receive the vaccine against Covid-19 until February 2021. He said that there is an “alternative plan” for the state of SP, in case there is no agreement with the federal government. for national distribution.

“To Brazilians from São Paulo, yes, I guarantee that we will have the vaccine, CoronaVac, to serve the entire population of São Paulo, already at the end of this year and throughout the first two months of 2021, and we will immunize them”, said Doria on September 21.

The state of São Paulo has about 44 million inhabitants, according to the IBGE. CoronaVac tests on volunteers, however, are done with two doses of the vaccine per person.

Release with 50% effectiveness

Dimas Covas has already stated that the São Paulo government will ask Anvisa to release Coronavac for emergency use if the vaccine shows at least 50% effectiveness in preliminary analysis.

A 50% effectiveness is not necessarily the ultimate goal of the vaccine, but a minimum value to be obtained in an interim analysis that should occur by November. This analysis compares how many volunteers had coronavirus among those who took the vaccine and those who took placebo.

The phase 3 study divides the volunteers into two equal groups: half of the participants get the vaccine and the other half, a placebo. Participants do not know which group they belong to. In order for Coronavac’s interim analysis to be carried out, it is necessary that at least 61 cases of Covid-19 occur among 13,000 volunteers, whether they are members of the vaccine group or the so-called control group.

The study should also have a second analysis, called a primary analysis, which is done when the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 among the 13,000 volunteers reaches 154 cases.

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