São Paulo (AFP) – A candidate vaccine produced by the Chinese company Sinovac is 78% effective in protecting against the Coronavirus, according to results of a study announced by Brazilian state health officials Thursday to obtain federal approval for the injection
More than 12,000 health workers participated in the study, which revealed 218 cases of COVID-19 – about 160 cases among people who received a placebo instead of the actual vaccine.
Turkish officials said last month that a smaller accompanying study in that country for the same vaccine candidate found an efficacy rate of over 90%.
The state government of São Paulo, which contracted to get the vaccine, said it would require Brazilian federal health regulators Friday to obtain emergency approval to start using it. Governor Joao Doria plans to start a vaccination campaign for the state’s 46 million residents on January 25.
The Botantan Institute in São Paulo, which is Sinovac’s partner in Brazil, has not disclosed data such as results by age, gender or the number of asymptomatic volunteers in the sample, which many epidemiologists require to assess whether the shot met safety standards.
Officials said details would be released after the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency approves the vaccine. They did not mention the date of detection in the scientific publications.
Gonzalo Vicena, one of the founders of the Brazilian Health Agency, said the data revealed so far is reassuring enough to approve the injection for use in emergencies.
“In general terms, we have enough information to proceed with the registration and its use,” Vesina told the Associated Press. “We need 320 million vaccines for 160 million Brazilians, and this is our population over the age of 18. If the federal government doesn’t do it, state governments will do it, but we have to do it quickly. We are already behind a lot of countries.”
The health agency said in a statement that it had not yet received full data on the study.
The researchers did not report any serious side effects in the study.
The United States has required vaccine candidates to be tested on at least 30,000 people to determine safety and efficacy.
The Sinovac filter was ready for testing at a late stage at a time when the spread of the Coronavirus in China was so small that the company had to search multiple sites abroad to gather the necessary data.
“Today is the day of hope and the day of life,” Doria said at a press conference. Brazil is close to 200,000 deaths from the virus.
The governor of Sao Paulo is an opponent of President Jair Bolsonaro, who played down the risks of the epidemic from the start and repeatedly questioned the quality of the Chinese vaccine.
After Doria’s announcement, Brazil’s Health Minister, Eduardo Pazuelo, said at a press conference in Brasilia that the Bolsonaro administration would buy up to 100 million doses of Senovac doses. The São Paulo state government confirmed the deal with an initial 46 million doses.
“These shots will be distributed equally and proportionately between all states, as will AstraZeneca,” Pazuelo said.
The Brazilian federal government has already concluded a deal to secure up to 100 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, 70 million of which have been produced in household soil.
Pazuelo said the shots made by drug companies Pfizer and Moderna, which have already been proven to be effective, are expensive and cause many legal problems. He also said that the Brazilian government is keen to purchase monophasic vaccines under development by Jansen if they are successful.
In the evening, shortly after Brazil surpassed 200,000 COVID-19 deaths in its official quota, the state government of São Paulo said it had reached an agreement with the Brazilian Ministry of Health to provide 46 million doses of its vaccine. She did not say whether she would continue to start the vaccination campaign on January 25.
Earlier on Thursday, Bolsonaro told supporters in the capital, Brasilia, that vaccines approved for use in emergencies should not be mandatory, without naming a Sinovac dose. So far, his administration does not have a national vaccination plan.
“No one can compel a person to take something the consequences of which are not yet known,” Bolsonaro said. The president, who earlier suffered a bout of COVID-19, has reiterated that he will not take any vaccine.
A different Chinese company, SinoPharm, announced last week that its similar vaccine is 79% effective. Both of these vaccines are based on inactivated viruses.