Brazil in talks with Pfizer to buy promising COVID-19 vaccine

BRASILIA (Reuters) - The Brazilian federal government is in talks with Pfizer Inc in Brazil to buy its experimental COVID-19 vaccine for inclusion in its national vaccination program, a spokesman for the company said on Monday.

Brazil’s Ministry of Health, in response to a Reuters request for comment, said it was considering all potential vaccines in late-stage trials, including Pfizer’s.

President Jair Bolsonaro later told reporters his government would buy any vaccine approved by both the health ministry and health regulator Anvisa, a change from his Oct. 21 comment that Brazil would never buy the one developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd.

Four vaccines are being tested in Brazil seeking Anvisa approval, including those developed by Oxford University/AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical subsidiary Janssen.

Pfizer’s vaccine, developed in partnership with BioNTech SE, is undergoing late-stage tests involving 3,100 volunteers in Sao Paulo and Bahia states.

The company said on Monday its vaccine is more than 90% effective based on initial trial results, making it one of the most promising ones against COVID-19.

Brazil’s council of state health secretaries will urge the Health Ministry next week to include the Pfizer vaccine in the national vaccination program, council chief Carlos Lula told Reuters.

The government aims to buy the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine being tested by a federal biomedical, FioCruz, with plans to produce it in Brazil.

Reporting by Ricardo Brito, Lisandra Paraguassu and Anthony Boadle; editing by Stephen Eisenhammer and Richard Chang