Minutes later, Monica Calazans, a Black nurse from downtown São Paulo, became the first Brazilian to be vaccinated. Calazans, who is at high risk for Covid-19 complications and works in an ICU that has been at 90% capacity or above since April, exploded into tears before receiving the Coronavac shot.
“You don’t understand what this means to me,” she told São Paulo state governor João Doria.
Coronavac, developed by Chinese company Sinovac, is now authorized for use of 6 million imported doses. It has a history in Sao Paulo state, where the local Butantan Institute conducted Phase III clinical trials of the vaccine. Butantan will also produce future doses.
The technical report from ANVISA greenlighting Coronavac stressed that the agency had also taken into account the urgency of Brazil’s skyrocketing Covid-19 cases and “the absence of therapeutic alternatives.”
It also recommended that the vaccine be monitored further, noting the Butantan Institute had not provided important data from its Phase III study, such as the duration of protection provided by the vaccine and its effect on the elderly, those with comorbidities and other patient groups.
Fiocruz signed a deal to purchase and produce the vaccine with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca in June. After successive delays, the Brazilian government signed in October a contract for 256 million doses and announced that it would receive the first ones in December.
After another series of delays, Fiocruz expects to receive the first shipment by the end of January.
CNN’s Rodrigo Pedroso reported from São Paulo and Caitlin Hu reported from New York.