Brazil approves Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine despite unavailability in country

WION Web Team
Brasília, Brazil Published: Feb 23, 2021, 06.45 PM(IST)

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Photograph:( Reuters )

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The approval was definitive and not only for emergency use as per the federal health regulator

Brazil on Tuesday approved the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for widespread use even though it is not yet available in the country.

Antonio Barra Torres, the director of Brazil's health regulatory agency Anvisa, said "It gives me great pleasure to announce that after a 17-day review, (regulators) have granted the first approval in the Americas for widespread use of a vaccine against Covid-19."

The approval was definitive and not only for emergency use as per the federal health regulator. So far, Brazil is using two vaccines for inoculating its citizens. These include Chinese-developed CoronaVac and one developed by Oxford University and British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca.

Also read: Taiwan confirms three cases of Brazil coronavirus variant

Brazil surpassed 10 million confirmed coronavirus cases last week as a new variant discovered in the Amazon threatens to further ravage a country where inoculations have been halted in many cities due to a lack of vaccines. It has the second-highest death toll after the United States.

President Jair Bolsonaro has consistently played down the gravity of the pandemic, urging Brazilians back to work and saying he would not be vaccinated.

Despite vowing to vaccinate the entire population of around 210 million by the end of the year, the Health Ministry has provided states with just 11.8 million doses so far.

That is far short of the 104.2 million doses needed to immunize just the highest risk groups in Brazil, using vaccines that require two shots per person.

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