| 3 March 2024, Sunday |

Brazil’s Bolsonaro asks Pfizer to speed up COVID vaccine delivery

According to a government source, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro urged Pfizer Inc on Monday to accelerate the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations, in order to speed up a sluggish national vaccination program.

According to testimony before a Senate inquiry investigating delays in vaccination the country with the world’s second-deadliest outbreak, Bolsonaro turned down vaccine offers from Pfizer last year.

According to the president’s office, Bolsonaro, his chief of staff, and ministers of health and international affairs held a conference conversation with Pfizer Brasil Chief Executive Marta Diez and Pfizer Latin America Chief Executive Carlos Murillo.

According to a government official familiar with the situation, Bolsonaro asked Pfizer executives if deliveries for later this year could be moved from the fourth quarter to June.

Pfizer Brasil did not respond to a request for comment on the meeting.

Almost half a million Brazilians have died from COVID-19, yet only 10.3% of the country’s 210 million people have received a first vaccine dose, and just 25% have been fully vaccinated, mainly with vaccines developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd and AstraZeneca Plc.

Bolsonaro, a vaccine skeptic who opposes social isolation and lockdown, has called for the use of the anti-malaria medicine hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients, despite the lack of proof that it is effective.

A Senate commission is looking into the far-right leader’s administration for delays in a vaccine schedule that trails behind several other countries. The government never responded to communications from Pfizer last year proposing to sell vaccines, according to testimony before the commission.

Brazil agreed to buy 100 million doses from Pfizer in March, and the first pills came in late April. A second contract, signed in May, called for the delivery of another 100 million doses in the fourth quarter.

  • Reuters