November 09, 2020

Chinas Sinovac coronavirus vaccine trial suspended in Brazil after participant dies
Brazil has suspended clinical trials for China's Coronavirus vaccine after a participant died. Instituto Butantan, the research centre in Sao Paulo developing the vaccine in partnership with Sinovac, a private Chinese firm, said it was surprised by the decision. Dimas Covas, director of the institute, told Brazilian media that a study volunteer had died, though the death was not linked to ongoing trials. “As there are more than 10,000 volunteers at this moment, deaths can occur,” said Mr Covas. “It’s a death that has no relation with the vaccine and as such it is not the moment to interrupt the trials.” Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa said in a statement late on Monday that an "adverse, serious event" had occurred on Oct 29, but it didn’t say there had been a death. Nor did it elaborate on what happened or why it was revealing this more than a week later. Sinovac said it had been in touch with Butantan, and learned the director, Mr Covas, "believed that this serious adverse event is not related to the vaccine." The Chinese company remains in contact with Brazil and reiterated its confidence in the safety of its vaccine. Vaccine studies have been suspended in recent months after serious adverse events to allow experts to investigate. Suspensions have impacted vaccines jointly developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, and another by American firm Johnson & Johnson, though trials later resumed after scientists deemed it safe to continue. In Brazil, the second hardest-hit by the pandemic with more than 160,000 deaths, access to the coronavirus vaccine has been politicised by a rivalry between president Jair Bolsonaro and Sao Paulo state governor Joao Doria. Mr Doria is expected to challenge Mr Bolsonaro for office in 2022 elections, and has supported development of the Sinovac vaccine, vowing to inoculate all residents of his state as early as March next year. Earlier on Monday before Anvisa announced the trial suspension, Mr Doria said that workers had broken ground on a facility that will produce 100 million doses annually of the Sinovac vaccine. Sao Paulo will import 120,000 doses of the vaccine, expected to arrive Nov. 20. Butantan, the Brazilian institute partnering with Sinovac, is also supported by the state of Sao Paulo.
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