Brazil's Bolsonaro says he was right to question Chinese COVID-19 vaccine
SAO PAULO, January 13 (Reuters). Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday rightly criticized the credibility of a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech, which achieved disappointing efficacy results in local studies.
On Tuesday, researchers in Sao Paulo state announced that the Chinese vaccine was 50.4% effective against symptomatic infections in a local study - barely enough for regulatory approval and well below the rate announced last week.
Bolsonaro, a far-right former army captain, is a longtime China hawk. He has repeatedly criticized the Sinovac shot, which was later tested by the Butantane Institute in Sao Paulo, as untrustworthy. He previously said his government would not buy the Chinese vaccine, but later gave way as criticism of the Brazilian vaccine adoption increased.
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Bolsonaro spoke to supporters outside of his residence and made the Sinovac trial results clear to himself.
"That 50% is good, isn't it? All of the (criticisms) I got for my comments and now they're seeing the truth. Four months for being verbally abused about the vaccine," he said.
Even so, Bolsonaro said he played no role in the greening of the Sinovac shot as it was up to the federal health agency Anvisa to decide whether to approve it for use.
Last week, the Brazilian government signed a contract with the Butantane Institute to purchase up to 100 million doses of the Chinese vaccine. The government will initially receive 46 million cans, and later another 54 million.
(Reporting by Eduardo Simoes, editing by Mark Heinrich)
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