The production of the Coronavac vaccine, which is at a standstill at the moment, can be resumed next year if there is interest from the elected government, says the executive director of the Butantan Foundation and former director of the institute of the same name, Dimas Tadeu Covas.
According to him, there was no demand by the current government to acquire more doses of immunizer, not even for children. Currently, the stock at the institute has 2.5 million doses.
However, at least seven capitals in the country stopped vaccinating children aged 3 and 4 years due to lack of doses.
“We had a contract for 100 million doses with the federal government. Afterwards, an additive contract was made for another 6 million, but the government only asked for 2 million. The only state that was not affected by the stoppage was São Paulo, because here we have the institute that distributes directly to the PEI [Programa Estadual de Imunização]”, said Covas in an interview this Tuesday afternoon (29) at the headquarters of Butantan, in the west zone of São Paulo.
Also according to Covas, Coronavac production is not the only one affected by the lack of contracts with the Ministry of Health. “The institute provides eight vaccines annually to the ministry, and these contracts have not yet been signed. In February and March the distribution of the influenza vaccine begins and so far we do not have a contract from the folder for these doses”, he said.
For him, a reversal of the scenario with the current government is unlikely. What is most expected is for the elected government to signal the acquisition of immunizers next year.
“There was an announcement by the transitional government team to say that vaccination will be resumed across the country at pre-pandemic levels, with an expansion of vaccines offered. We are waiting for a move by them for the acquisition.”
The acceleration of booster vaccination is also expected by the hematologist. According to him, only half of the Brazilian population received the third dose, and that is worrying.
“Today vaccination in Brazil is at the lowest rate since the beginning. It needs to resume, it needs to complete the booster with the last dose available, not to mention those who have not yet taken any vaccine. For next year, if this task is accomplished, then we can discuss the annual Covid vaccination, in my opinion, a scheme that will be followed”, said Covas.
The director also criticized the so-called war of vaccines, an episode that became known in 2020 for the “manda and demand” of President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) and former Minister of Health Eduardo Pazuello for the purchase of Coronavac, which was announced by Pazuello and soon afterwards denied by Bolsonaro.
“If the political dispute had not occurred [pela vacina]we could have started vaccination a month earlier than when it started in the country, in December 2020. A study has already shown that vaccination at the rate that was a month, a month and a half after the start of the campaign could have saved up to 100,000 lives more,” he said.
Covas cites a study carried out by researchers from several research institutions in the country, including Unesp, Unicamp, USP and Fiocruz, which pointed out 47 thousand more lives would be avoided if the vaccination rhythm was the same in the first month of vaccination as that of eight weeks later .
The director also hopes that the elected government will recover vaccine coverage and, more importantly, confidence in vaccines next year, although recovering 100% will take time. “It won’t happen right away, it’s a process that takes time. Before, Brazil was recognized by the WHO [Organização Mundial da Saúde] as the most important immunization program in the world. We need to reinforce the importance of vaccination.”
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