Halted Brazil trials of Chinese-made vaccine cause surprise
SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil's health regulator has halted clinical trials of the potential coronavirus vaccine CoronaVac, citing an “adverse, serious event.”
The decision posted on Anvisa's website Monday night elicited immediate surprise from parties involved in producing the vaccine.
The potential vaccine is being developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac and in Brazil would be mostly produced by Sao Paulo's state-run Butantan Institute. Sao Paulo state’s government said in a statement it “regrets being informed by the press and not directly by Anvisa, as normally occurs in clinical trials of this nature.”
Butantan said in a statement that it was surprised by Anvisa's decision and that it would hold a news conference Tuesday.
The CoronaVac shot has already stirred controversy in Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro has cast doubt on its prospective effectiveness. He sparked confusion last month when he publicly rejected it, saying Brazilians would not be used as guinea pigs. The declaration followed news that his health minister, Eduardo Pazuello, had agreed to purchase CoronaVac doses produced locally by Butantan.
Bolsonaro has often expressed mistrust of China, particularly on the campaign trail in 2018, although he has softened his rhetoric somewhat in office. Also, Sao Paulo state's Gov. João Doria has become a political rival and an outspoken critic of the president's pandemic response.
Anvisa said in its statement that the event prompting the trial's suspension occurred Oct. 29, without saying what transpired.
“With the interruption of the study, no new volunteer can be vaccinated,” its statement said.
Dimas Covas, who leads Butantan, said on TV Cultura late Monday that a volunteer had died, but that the person’s death was not due...