Brazilian state plans deal with Russia to make Covid-19 vaccine
Brazil's Paraná state is in talks with Russia to produce a Covid-19 vaccine, the state research institute said on Tuesday, hours after President Vladimir Putin declared his country to be the world's first to grant regulatory approval for a vaccine.
João Pedro Schonarth, spokesman for the Parana Technology Institute (Tecpar), told Reuters talks were underway. The state government said Governor Ratinho Júnior was set to meet the Russian ambassador to Brazil on Wednesday, but a spokesperson did not say if a production deal would be signed at the meeting.
With the world's biggest coronavirus outbreak outside the United States, Brazil has become a hub for mass clinical trials of potential vaccines, with candidates from the UK and China already being tested.
Brazilian officials have also vowed to start making vaccines developed by British and Chinese researchers within a year, but experts have warned it will likely take at least twice as long.
The Russian vaccine has not yet completed final trials, raising concerns among experts at the speed of its approval, but the Russian business conglomerate Sistema has said it expects to put it into mass production by the end of the year.
Moscow hailed its breakthrough, after less than two months of human testing, as evidence of Russia's scientific prowess.
Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund, said the vaccine, which will be marketed under the name Sputnik V in foreign markets, will be produced in part in Brazil.
Any production arrangement would require approval by Brazilian health regulator Anvisa. The agency and Brazil's Health Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Brazil has registered more than 3 million cases of the novel coronavirus and the official death toll recently passed 100,000, as President Jair Bolsonaro urges a reopening of the economy despite an uncontrolled outbreak.
Cuban news agency Prensa Latina reported that Russia "could" also arrange for production of its Covid-19 vaccine in Cuba, citing Dmitriev.