Attempts to create an effective vaccine against Covid-19 are not all equally successful. While the Pfizer laboratory has just given the world a glimmer of salutary hope with a vaccine with an efficacy rate of around 90%, the Brazilian health authority announced on Monday that it had suspended clinical trials of a another vaccine candidate, CoronaVac from Chinese laboratory Sinovac Biotech, after “a serious incident” observed in a volunteer on October 29.
The Health Vigilance Agency (Anvisa) did not provide details of what happened, but indicated that this type of incident could include death, potentially fatal side effects, severe disability, hospitalization. and other “clinically significant events”. The public body that coordinates vaccine trials in Brazil, the Butantan Institute, said it was “surprised” by this decision. He will give a press conference on the matter on Tuesday at 2 p.m. GMT.
Pfizer and Sinovac vaccine candidates are in phase 3 trials, the last stage before they get the green light or not from regulatory authorities. The two are on trial in Brazil, the second most bereaved country by the pandemic, with more than 162,000 dead. The CoronaVac has been the subject of a political battle in Brazil between one of its biggest supporters, the governor of São Paulo, João Doria, and its main political opponent, President Jair Bolsonaro. The far-right head of state spoke of Sinovac’s vaccine saying it came from “this other country”, and instead promoted the one developed by the University of Oxford with British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
120,000 first doses
Last month, Bolsonaro canceled an agreement to buy 46 million doses of the Chinese vaccine that had been announced by his own Minister of Health. Referring to “a very discredited China” because “the virus was born there”, the president assured that his country was “not going to buy a vaccine that does not interest anyone”. On Monday, João Doria announced that the first 120,000 doses of CoronaVac would arrive in São Paulo on November 20. The State of São Paulo has an agreement with Sinovac to acquire 46 million doses (6 million produced in China, the others in Brazil).
In a press release, the government of this state “regrets having heard of the decision through the press, instead of having been informed directly by Anvisa”, and hopes with the Butantan Institute to learn more about ” the real reasons for the suspension ”. “State government officials fear Bolsonaro will use technical decisions to delay vaccination schedule for political reasons,” the newspaper reported Newspaper, citing relatives of João Doria.
Another vaccine candidate was suspended for a while: the one developed by the AstraZeneca group with the British University of Oxford, following the onset of a disease in one of the participants. The trial was suspended worldwide on September 6, but resumed after a few days in the United Kingdom and in the following weeks in South Africa, Brazil, Japan and finally the United States, the various health authorities estimating that the vaccine was safe as the disease was apparently unrelated to the vaccine.