Chinese drug firm CanSino hoping Brazil will approve COVID-19 vaccine

Eduardo Baptista, South China Morning Post

Posted at Oct 03 2021 08:14 AM

China's CanSino hopes to start distributing its Covid-19 vaccine in Brazil after signing a deal with a local company, although the country's government has turned away from another widely used Chinese vaccine.

Biomm, a listed Brazilian biopharm company, announced on Friday that it had signed an exclusive deal to distribute and manufacture CanSino's Covid-19 vaccine in Brazil.

It also said it will apply for an emergency use licence.

CanSino has not yet obtained emergency use approval from the World Health Organization, which has given the green light to two other Chinese vaccines by Sinopharm and Sinovac.

"We are pleased to be able to collaborate with a leading industrial partner that allows our Convidecia vaccine for COVID-19 to be a potential part of the fight against the pandemic in Brazil," CanSino chief executive Yu Xuefeng said in a statement published on Biomm's website.

"We look forward to moving forward and helping build mass immunisation in a timely manner."

The move comes at a time when Brazil's government is growing cold on CoronaVac, which is made by Sinovac and was widely used in Brazil.

Last month, Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga said that the two-shot vaccine would not be used to give elderly citizens or the immunosuppressed booster shots until it had secured full approval.

Queiroga instead recommended two other vaccines made by American and European firms.

Last year, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and SAo Paulo governor JoAo Doria had a series of public rows over the latter's backing of CoronaVac, which Bolsonaro called the vaccine of death and disability.

After Brazil's federal government halted negotiations for additional doses of CoronaVac last month, tensions have flared once more.

Butantan, which is funded by the Sao Paulo government, said last month that it planned to sell its remaining vaccines to individual states. The health ministry responded by saying this would incur a penalty of 31 million Real, roughly US$5.8 million dollars.

According to Biomm, CanSino's Convidencia has the potential to be used as a booster shot, even if "mixed" with other vaccines.

This is CanSino's second attempt at supplying Convidecia to the Brazilian market. In June, its previous local partner was refused permission to sell to the central government after it became embroiled in a corruption investigation.

While the drug maker's data states Convidecia has an overall efficacy rate of 69 per cent and is 95 per cent effective at preventing serious cases of Covid-19, it has not yet published comprehensive phase three clinical trial data.

Biomm's chief executive Heraldo Marchezini told Brazilian health news outlet Saude on Friday that Convidecia, if approved by the health regulator, would be manufactured in a factory that has received US$90 million in investment.

The factory, located in a small town in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, will have the capacity to produce 400 million doses a year, he said.

Marchezini also said that Biomm had not yet begun negotiating a contract with the health ministry.

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