All Brazilians will be able to get free COVID-19 vaccines, President Jair Bolsonaro says, once the CoronaVac shot has been given approval.
The President announced Brazil’s government will offer COVID-19 vaccines to all Brazilians free of charge once the health regulator gives the immunisation scientific and legal approval.
In a post on his Twitter account, Mr Bolsonaro also said the economy ministry has assured him there would be no shortage of resources to administer a vaccine to everyone who wanted one.
“Once certified by @anvisa_oficial (scientific guidelines and legal precepts), @govbr will offer the vaccine to all, free of charge and not mandatory,” Mr Bolsonaro tweeted on Monday (Brazilian time).
Mr Bolsonaro’s tweet came shortly before the president of Sao Paulo’s Butantan Institute biomedical centre, Dimas Covas, said all necessary data for the CoronaVac vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech had been or would soon be sent to health regulator Anvisa.
He expected Anvisa to approve it, regardless of the political storm between Mr Bolsonaro and Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria over competing vaccines.
Mr Doria said earlier on Monday the country’s most populous state planned to start vaccinating its population against COVID-19 on January 25. The federal government expects to roll out its own immunisation plan at least a month later.
Mr Doria’s ambitious timeline comes even though the Sinovac vaccine has yet to be approved by Anvisa.
Mr Bolsonaro has been criticised for dismissing the severity of the coronavirus, early in the year calling it a “little flu” and accusing officials of inflating the numbers.
In May, when the country’s coronavirus death toll had already surpassed 22,000, the right-wing President continued to reject social distancing measures in favour of reopening the economy.
Brazil now has the world’s third-highest coronavirus case count at more than 6.6 million and the second-heaviest death toll of more than 177,000.
His positive test result came after months of downplaying COVID-19 and even hugging supporters during rallies he insisted on holding, despite concerns over social distancing.
Mr Bolsonaro recently said he would not take the coronavirus vaccine, calling it his “right” and joked on Twitter only his dog would receive a compulsory vaccination.