Serious incident cancels vaccine trials

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CREDIT: Martin Sanchez

BRAZIL cancels trials of the Chinese vaccine against COVID-19, due to a “serious incident”.

Health authorities in Brazil reported the decision to “interrupt the clinical trial of the CoronaVac vaccine” but did not provide details about what the serious incident was.

They did, however, indicate that such incidents could include death, possibly fatal side effects, severe disability and other clinically significant events.

It had been announced that the first 120,000 doses of the vaccine were due to arrive in Sao Paulo on November 20.

The public entity coordinating the trials, the Butantan Institute, was reportedly “surprised” by the decision and is “investigating in detail” what has happened.

More details on the situation are expected at 2pm GMT on Tuesday, November 10.

CoronaVac has been the centre of a political battle in Brazil between one of its greatest defenders in the country, the governor of Sao Paulo, Joao Doria, and his main political rival, President Jair Bolsonaro.

The São Paulo state government issued a statement claiming that it “regrets having learned of the decision from the press, rather than directly from Anvisa,” and was waiting, together with the Butantan Institute, for more information on “the real reasons for the suspension.”

The far-right president has instead promoted the vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford with British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

In October, he cancelled a purchase agreement for 46 million doses of the Chinese vaccine that had been announced by his own Minister of Health, saying “the Brazilian people will not be anyone’s guinea pig”.

Doria had an agreement to purchase 46 million doses, six million produced in China and the rest in Sao Paulo.

The setback for CoronaVac due to the so-called serious incident came the same day that US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced that its coronavirus vaccine is 90 per cent effective.

Both are being tested in Brazil, the country with the second highest number of deaths from Covid-19 behind the United States.

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Written by

Jennifer Leighfield

Jennifer Leighfield, born in Salisbury, UK; resident in Malaga, Spain since 1989. Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish, French and English from Malaga University (2005), specialising in Crime, Forensic Medicine and Genetics. Published translations include three books by Richard Handscombe. Worked with Euro Weekly News since November 2006. Well-travelled throughout Spain and the rest of the world, fan of Harry Potter and most things ‘geek’.