Brazil to become a testing ground for the coronavirus vaccine

Brazil may be struggling in its battle against the coronavirus, but it is on the cutting edge of vaccine development with large-scale trials and the production of millions of doses on the horizon.

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the Latin American nation — a situation underlined when President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive on Tuesday — creating the necessary conditions for testing a vaccine’s efficiency.

Brazil, which is the primary global producer for yellow fever vaccines, is renowned for its expertise in vaccines, which it produces on a large scale in public institutes.

The leaders for two of the most advanced vaccine projects — one from Oxford University, in partnership with AstraZeneca labs, and one from China’s Sinovac — will carry out Phase Three tests, the last one before the drug is approved, on thousands of Brazilian volunteers. Only three vaccine projects in the world have reached Phase Three.

And Brazil won’t be short-changed either: both projects have technology transfer agreements that will enable the country to produce the vaccines themselves, should the tests prove conclusive.

With lockdown measures applied unevenly nationwide, Brazil — a country of continental proportions with 212 million inhabitants — has not managed to contain the pandemic, which has killed 65,000 people in the country. It is the second worst-hit nation after the United States.

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