Brazil suspends trial of Chinese-developed Covid-19 vaccine

Beijing suffers setback in effort to use pharma sector for post-pandemic diplomatic outreach

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Steer from crisis to recovery with the FT Latest on Coronavirus treatment Matt Hancock predicts UK vaccine use in early 2021, if deemed safe Does a vaccine against Covid-19 herald the end of the pandemic? US banks in line for windfall after Covid-19 vaccine progress Covid vaccine, Nikola earnings, India vs Google Coronavirus treatment Brazil suspends trial of Chinese-developed Covid-19 vaccine Beijing suffers setback in effort to use pharma sector for post-pandemic diplomatic outreach Protesters in São Paulo demonstrate against the government’s decision to run phase-3 trials of Sinovac’s vaccine in the country © REUTERS Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Christian Shepherd in Beijing and Bryan Harris in São Paulo 4 hours ago 51 Print this page Be the first to know about every new Coronavirus story Brazil has suspended final-stage trials of a Chinese-made coronavirus vaccine, dealing a blow to Beijing’s efforts to use medical diplomacy in the wake of the pandemic. Anvisa, Brazil’s national health regulator, said on Monday that a CoronaVac trial of 9,000 people had been halted due to an adverse reaction reported on October 29. The trial was carried out jointly with São Paulo’s Butantan Institute, a biomedical research centre. No new volunteers would take the vaccine until a study into the risks and benefits of concluding the trial was complete, the agency said, without providing details on the nature of the reaction. The news is likely to be welcomed by President Jair Bolsonaro, who has rallied against the Chinese-made vaccine, saying that Brazilians should not be “guinea pigs” in its rollout. It will also deal a blow to one of his key political rivals, João Doria, the governor of São Paulo, who on Monday said the state would import 120,000 doses of the Chinese-made vaccine next week in anticipation of final approval from Anvisa. Brazil’s largest and wealthiest state has also begun construction on a facility that will be able to produce 100m doses of the vaccine every year. Last month the Butantan Institute said that preliminary results for the CoronaVac trial were promising, and authorities in São Paulo were hoping to begin administering the vaccine in the coming months. More than 160,000 have died from the disease in Latin America’s biggest economy. Sinovac said it was confident of its vaccine’s safety. The president of the Butantan Institute, meanwhile, denied the death was related to the vaccine. “We find this decision by Anvisa a little strange because it is a death unrelated to the vaccine. There are more than 10,000 volunteers at this time, deaths can happen,” said Dimas Covas, head of the institute, without giving further details. The announcement threatens to derail an effort by China to use its vaccines to strengthen ties with diplomatic partners and burnish its credentials as a provider of global public health goods. Beijing and its leading vaccine developers have made grand promises to manufacture and deliver vaccines across the developing world, as part of a charm offensive to soothe anger over China’s early mishandling of the outbreak. Recommended Coronavirus treatment China’s Covid-19 vaccine diplomacy steals a march on US Sinovac, the group that developed the CoronaVac vaccine, has been at the forefront of China’s efforts. Its vaccine uses a chemically inactivated version of the virus to spark an immune response. The company has been conducting phase-3, or final-stage, trials in Brazil, Indonesia and Turkey, following positive results in early-stage safety and efficacy clinical trials. The announcement about the Chinese vaccine comes a day after a vaccine by US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech was found to be more than 90 per cent effective, raising hopes that the drug may be available by the end of the year. Brazil’s ministry of health, run by an army general close to Mr Bolsonaro, said it was in talks with Pfizer to buy their vaccine. Hu Xijin, editor of the nationalist tabloid Global Times, wrote on Twitter: “Pfizer announced its progress on COVID-19 vaccine right after the election, this is odd. It is even weirder that trial of a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine was halted by Brazil later. I am worried that politics and excessive pursuit of economic interests are involved in vaccine R&D.” Sinovac, alongside Chinese state-backed pharmaceutical groups Sinopharm and CanSino, which are also conducting phase-3 trials of their respective vaccines, has been forced to carry out its final tests overseas because the coronavirus outbreak has been nearly halted within China. China has been administering experimental vaccines to its own population as part of sweeping “emergency use” efforts ahead of final-stage trials, a move that has raised ethical and safety concerns from some international public health experts. Get alerts on Coronavirus treatment when a new story is published Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2020. All rights reserved. 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https://www.ft.com/content/c74d9553-5283-43f9-b585-5cafac0d49ed

Sinovac, the group that developed the CoronaVac vaccine, has been at the forefront of China’s efforts. Its vaccine uses a chemically inactivated version of the virus to spark an immune response. The company has been conducting phase-3, or final-stage, trials in Brazil, Indonesia and Turkey, following positive results in early-stage safety and efficacy clinical trials. The announcement about the Chinese vaccine comes a day after a vaccine by US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech was found to be more than 90 per cent effective, raising hopes that the drug may be available by the end of the year. Brazil’s ministry of health, run by an army general close to Mr Bolsonaro, said it was in talks with Pfizer to buy their vaccine. Hu Xijin, editor of the nationalist tabloid Global Times, wrote on Twitter: “Pfizer announced its progress on COVID-19 vaccine right after the election, this is odd. It is even weirder that trial of a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine was halted by Brazil later. I am worried that politics and excessive pursuit of economic interests are involved in vaccine R&D.” Sinovac, alongside Chinese state-backed pharmaceutical groups Sinopharm and CanSino, which are also conducting phase-3 trials of their respective vaccines, has been forced to carry out its final tests overseas because the coronavirus outbreak has been nearly halted within China. China has been administering experimental vaccines to its own population as part of sweeping “emergency use” efforts ahead of final-stage trials, a move that has raised ethical and safety concerns from some international public health experts.

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