The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has admitted in its annual report that it used "diplomatic relations" in order to force Brazil, one of the worst-hit countries in terms of the pandemic, to reject authorisation of the Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V.
The American authorities put their actions down to the need to "mitigate efforts" by Russia to boost its "influence" in the region, which, as the department's paper argues, would be detrimental to the "US’ safety and security". The report did not elaborate on how Brazil's approval of an additional vaccine to fight the pandemic would undermine US security.
Brazil Struggles to Get Vaccines Despite Authorising Three Jabs
Brazil so far has authorised two vaccines for emergency use, the AstraZeneca drug and the Chinese medication Sinovac. It has given full approval for the American jab developed jointly by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE.
The country said in February that it was in talks to buy 20 million doses of the Sinovac shot despite domestic trials showing around 50% efficacy. Brazil has also been struggling to get AstraZeneca jabs, trying to buy shipments of it from other countries. By February the country managed to get its hands on 2 million doses, but said it had only "scratched the surface of the shortfall". Another 8-million dose shipment was halted by the Indian government.
US Dep. of Health publicly confirmed that it pressured Brazil against Sputnik V.— Sputnik V (@sputnikvaccine) March 15, 2021
We believe countries should work together to save lives. Efforts to undermine the vaccines are unethical and are costing lives.
👇https://t.co/Ga5i4zvbCt P.48 pic.twitter.com/A6wyKOkc8t
The situation is even worse with the US-made Pfizer vaccine as Brazil has only been able to procure a single vial of it so far. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro criticised the terms of the deal proposed by the medical giant, condemning the exemption of the company from liability in case the delivery of the medicine goes wrong in some way. Despite that, the country struck a deal for 100 million doses on 3 March.
Pfizer first proposed the deal to buy its vaccine back in 2020, but Brazil turned down the original offer, now it appears to have had a change of heart.
The Brazilian pharmaceutical company União Quimica was planning to produce the Sputnik V anti-coronavirus jab domestically and expected swift authorisation by the authorities. However, the country’s medical regulator has so far stopped short of approving emergency use authorisation for Sputnik V, despite the medicine's effectiveness being confirmed in clinical trials. The results of the latter were earlier published in the medical journal The Lancet.
Brazil continues to occupy first place in the world in terms of the number of daily new cases of COVID-19. So far, as many as 11.3 million cases have been registered in the country since the start of the pandemic, with 275,105 individuals dying from the infection. The latest WHO report says over 85,000 new cases of coronavirus have been spotted in the country over the last 24 hours.