With India all set to launch the world's largest COVID-19 vaccination program on Saturday, Brazil is planning to send a special flight to Mumbai to lift at least two million doses of the vaccine. According to a report in The Indian Express, a specially equipped aircraft from Brazil is expected to land in Mumbai over to weekend.
The flight is equipped with a special temperature-control system. The IE report claimed that Indian and Brazilian authorities are working to ensure necessary clearances. It said that the aircraft from Brazil was originally scheduled to land in Mumbai on Friday, but it is likely to be delayed by a day.
The move follows a request from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for vaccines. Bolsonaro wrote a letter to PM Modi last week, requesting for two million Covishield vaccines on an 'urgent' basis given the growing cases of coronavirus in the country.
"I would appreciate being able to count on Your Excellency's good offices to anticipate the supply to Brazil, with the possible urgency and without jeopardizing the Indian vaccination program, of 2 million doses of the immunizer produced by the Serum Institute of India," he wrote.
The IE report quoting sources said that Brazilian authorities have struck a commercial deal with Serum Institute of India, Pune for the supply of vaccine. The SII has tied up with AstraZeneca to manufacture vaccine developed by the University of Oxford – Covishield.
The report said that among the vaccines selected by the Brazilian government, are those from the Bharat Biotech (Covaxin) and AstraZeneca and University of Oxford (Covishield). Covishield is produced by the Serum Institute of India.
Brazil is said to have also made a diplomatic push for the Indian-made shipment of Covishield.
Earlier on Thursday, MEA spokesman Anurag Srivastava said that it was too early to give a specific response to queries on export to other countries. Notably, Brazil’s Deputy Health Minister Elcio Franco has said that his country was sending an aircraft to collect two million doses of Covishield.
The development comes after a leading Chinese Covid-19 vaccine, developed by Sinovac Biotech, has been found to be 50.4 per cent effective in Brazilian clinical trials. According to the latest results released by researchers, it shows the vaccine is significantly less effective than previous data suggested -- barely over the 50 per cent needed for regulatory approval.