RIO DE JANEIRO, August 5. / TASS /. A consortium of Brazil’s northeastern states, which have previously agreed with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) on the purchase of the Sputnik V jab, expects that the drug will help contain the spread of the Delta COVID-19 variant, Governor of Piaui Wellington Dias, who also heads this association, told TASS on Thursday.
"I do not understand the reasons for the ever-increasing complications of expanding the [list of approved] vaccines and [programs of] immunization. <...> We should allow the import and use of the Sputnik V jab, which is, according to studies, highly effective in containing the Delta variant," Dias stated. "We are still recording a large number of [COVID-19] deaths, so we need to speed up the vaccination. However, more vaccines are required," the Brazilian politician noted.
Dias recalled that in the state of Rio de Janeiro, every fourth positive COVID-19 test was accounted for by the Delta variant, while in the country’s capital, this figure was almost twice as high (45%). "Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are the centers connecting the whole of Brazil <...> It is necessary to contain this strain and avoid its spread [across the country]," the governor explained.
In early June 2021, the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa) authorized the import and limited use of Sputnik V for up to 1% of the population of the states, where the drug would be supplied. According to the agency, this is sufficient to organize immunization at the initial stage with further reports on the campaign’s progress and results. Based on the subsequent data, Anvisa will decide on further deliveries.
In mid-July, Brazilian Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga announced his readiness to assist state authorities in conducting local studies on Sputnik V’s effectiveness as required by Anvisa. At the same time, the ministry considers it a higher priority "to receive already purchased doses [of other vaccines]", however, they do not rule out the possibility of using the Russian jab after its registration by Anvisa.
Brazil launched its COVID-19 vaccination on January 18, 2021. Currently, the country uses drugs from AstraZeneca, Sinovac Biotech, Pfizer and Janssen. More than 42 mln Brazilians are fully inoculated, while almost 103 mln people have received the first vaccine dose. The country confirmed its first coronavirus case on February 26, 2020. Brazil ranks third in the world after the US and India in terms of COVID-19 cases (over 20 mln). In terms of fatalities, it is second only to the US (about 560,000).