Confidence in coronavirus vaccines has grown with majority now saying they want it
AstraZeneca vaccine distribution begins in Brazil
Brazil began distributing close to 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine on Saturday, Brazilian health officials announced.
According to Reuters, Brazil's federally funded Fiocruz Institute said it had begun distribution of the vaccine after the doses arrived from India on Friday.
While Brazil's government currently has a deal with AstraZeneca to produce up to 100 million doses of its vaccine locally, the country has recently faced delays from China in the delivery of the active ingredient needed to produce the vaccine.
AstraZeneca agreed to give Brazil 2 million ready-to-use doses made in India in order for the government to start distributing the vaccine to its citizens, Reuters reported.
The distribution comes as Brazil thus far has relied on the Chinese Sinovac vaccine, which health officials in Brazil last week said is just over 50 percent effective at preventing COVID-19, an efficacy rate that is much lower than the 78 percent officials in São Paulo previously estimated.
However, São Paulo's Butantan Institute maintains that the Chinese inoculation remains 100 percent effective at preventing "severe" or "moderate" coronavirus infections, while mild or very mild infections remain possible after receiving the shot.
Brazil has had the second highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the world, with more than 216,000 as of Saturday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The South American country is also in third place for total infections, with more than 8.8 million reported.
The United Kingdom earlier this month became the first country to begin administering the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was developed through a partnership with Oxford University. India and Pakistan have also since approved the inoculation for use.
Trial data revealed the AstraZeneca vaccine to have a 62 percent efficacy rate if given in two full doses 28 days apart as it was for most participants. However, the vaccine was found to be 90 percent effective when a small group in the trial was mistakenly given half a dose initially followed by a full dose.
Given the questions surrounding the trial data, U.S. health experts initially predicted it would take months to receive emergency approval for AstraZeneca's vaccine, though Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said last week that approval of the shot, as well as one from Johnson & Johnson, was likely "weeks away."