Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday denied that his government had received kickbacks in giving approval to India's Covaxin.
"We didn't spend one cent on Covaxin. We didn't receive one dose of Covaxin. What sort of corruption is this?" he was quoted as saying by Reuters.
The remarks come a day after a Brazilian official said in a newspaper interview that there was 'tremendous pressure' on the country's health ministry to approve the Stage 3 trials of Covaxin.
On Tuesday, Brazil’s federal prosecutor general’s office initiated a probe into a contract between Bharat Biotech and its Brazilian intermediary, and the federal health ministry. As per terms of the contract agreed upon in February, the Indian company would supply 20 million doses of vaccine to the South American nation at a price of $320 million.
The federal prosecutor alleged that the health ministry officials had been bribed by the Indian company into granting regulatory approval, despite the price of a Covaxin shot ($15) being higher than other vaccine candidates such as Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson, both of which have regulatory approval.
In his testimony before the Brazilian senate on Wednesday, Precisa Medicamentos, Bharat Biotech’s intermediary in Brazil, claimed that all the financial dealings of the company have been “transparent” till date.
Brazil’s health regulatory agency ANVISA cleared the imports of Covaxin into the South American nation earlier this month, after initially rejecting it over claims that the Indian company wasn’t adhering to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) requirements.