Brazil, hotbed for COVID-19 vaccine testing, may struggle to produce its own - (This is Money via NewsPoints Desk)

  • Brazilian officials claim they can start making COVID-19 vaccines developed by UK and Chinese scientists within a year, but some say it will take at least twice as long, leaving Brazil reliant on imports to slow the outbreak in the South American country, as reported in This is Money.

  • Some of the most advanced COVID-19 vaccine candidates, including one stemming from AstraZeneca and partner Oxford University, as well as one from China's Sinovac Biotech, are undergoing large clinical trials in Brazil.

  • As part of their agreements with Brazilian authorities, AstraZeneca and Sinovac have promised the federal government and the Sao Paulo state government, respectively, tens of millions of doses of their potential vaccines.

  • They also pledged to transfer technology so Brazil can eventually produce them domestically at leading biomedical institutes Fiocruz, in Rio de Janeiro, and Butantan, in Sao Paulo, with production slated to start by the middle of 2021. Brazil has said it will invest BRL 1.9 billion to process and produce the AstraZeneca vaccine.

  • However, three experts suggested that money alone would not be enough, saying it could take between two and 10 years for Brazil to produce COVID-19 vaccines, due to the difficulty of transferring technology and years of under-investment in the two production facilities.

  • "A tech transfer process lasts five to 10 years, on average. When Brazil has the complete technology, a COVID-19 vaccine will probably not be necessary anymore," said a former head of federal health regulator Anvisa, adding that Brazil is likely to have to purchase vaccines rather than produce them domestically, for the foreseeable future.

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