The state of Sao Paulo could roll out the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac even without approval from Brazil’s health regulator, the state’s governor said in an interview on Thursday. The comment from Joao Doria comes amid concern among some critics of President Jair Bolsonaro that the independence of Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa is under threat.
In a video interview on the news website Metropoles, Doria said Sao Paulo could use the vaccine from Sinovac Biotech Ltd based on approval from health regulators in other countries. “Today, there is suspicion that Anvisa could suffer political interference from the presidency and could fail to be an independent agency as it should be, as it must be,” he said.
He added the state would consider the vaccine appropriate for use if approved by authorities “in the United States, in Europe and, above all, in Asia.” Doria, a staunch opponent of Bolsonaro, has already ordered the construction of facilities to produce the Sinovac vaccine, which is currently undergoing late-stage trials in Sao Paulo and elsewhere in Brazil.
Bolsonaro, a strident China critic, has frequently dismissed the Sinovac vaccine, known as Coronavac, saying he is concerned about its “origin.” So far, the federal government’s principal bet has been on a vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca, though federal health officials have also held discussions with other vaccine developers, such as Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer Ltd.
Anvisa did not immediately respond to a request for comment.