On Monday (30), the Butantan Institute delivered to the National Immunization Program (PNI), of the Ministry of Health, more than ten million doses of the CoronaVac vaccine against COVID-19. This was the largest batch ever sent of doses of the immunizing agent against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, but the plans — and the schedule — of Butantan, from now on, must change. This is because the formula will not be applied as a booster injection (third dose) for Brazilians .
Butantan’s contract with Saúde provided for delivery of doses of CoronaVac by the end of September, but the institute provided for bringing forward the shipments by the end of this month. In total, Butantan has already delivered 92.8 million doses to the federal government. Now, there are still 7.1 million doses to be sent. However, this shipment may take a few weeks to complete.
Question of the third dose of the vaccine
Last week, Health announced that a booster dose should be applied to elderly people over 70 years of age and immunosuppressed people from the second week of September, in a staggered manner. The third dose will be an important initiative to improve the immune defenses of this group facing immunosenescence .
However, the vaccine that should be used, preferably, as the third dose, is from Pfizer/BioNTech, according to Health guidelines. “In the absence of this immunizing agent, the alternative should be made with the viral vector vaccines, Janssen or Astazeneca [ Oxford/Fiocruz]”, details the folder.
According to the recommendations, the future of CoronaVac is uncertain at the national level. Probably, the last doses should be used to complete the vaccination of those who have already received the first one. So far, no details have been commented on by Health on the issue.
On the other hand, different from what the Ministry of Health guides, the government of the state of São Paulo has already announced that the booster dose could also be made with the CoronaVac vaccine.
Perspectives of CoronaVac production in Brazil
“Still this week there will be a release of doses and we are going to assist the Ministry and the states that need the vaccine. We are going to make the schedules compatible and we are going to deliver them to everyone who has a contract”, said the director of Butantan, Dimas Covas, during a press conference.
“We currently have 13 million doses in Brazil in process. We have releases almost daily and we are rescheduling deliveries because we have other contracts to be concluded, in other states and in other countries”, said Dimas. The destination of the production of doses of CoronaVac by Butantan has not yet been detailed.
Even if the immunizing against COVID-19 is not a priority for Health, the doses can still be used against the pandemic. In this sense, there is the possibility of the immunizing agent being exported to other countries, which are more behind in the process of vaccination against the coronavirus. According to the Our World in Data platform, only 1.7% of people in low-income countries received at least one dose of any vaccine. In other words, most likely, there will be a market.