Countries should share spare vaccine doses with Brazil to help the global fight against Covid-19 and meet the battered country's goal of inoculating all citizensby year-end, Brazilian Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga said on Friday.
Speaking to a World Health Organization (WHO) briefing,Queiroga said Brazil had administered 41 million vaccine doses but needed more supplies to meet a daily target of 2.4 million.
"We need to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines and in line with this we would like to call on those countries with extra doses to share them with Brazil as soon as possible so we can also broaden our vaccination campaign and contain the pandemic at this critical time, and avoid the proliferation of new variants," Queiroga said.
Brazil on Thursday became the second country to pass 400,000 Covid-19 deaths after the United States. Experts warned the daily toll could remain high for several months due to a slow vaccination rate and loosening social restrictions. Brazil registered 3,001 new Covid-19 deaths on that day.
Experts have blamed the death toll on the failure of government - from President Jair Bolsonaro down to many state governors and mayors - to launch a robust response to the pandemic.
"We hope by the end of this year we will have vaccinated the entire population," Queiroga said.
The Russian developer of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine said on Thursday it would sue the Brazilian health regulator Anvisa for defamation, prompting a stern rebuttal from the agency.
Anvisa's board on Monday denied requests by Brazilian states to approve Sputnik V for import. The agency's manager for medicines and biological products, Gustavo Mendes, said there was evidence an adenovirus used in the vaccine could reproduce, which he called a "serious" defect.
Queiroga said Anvisa could withstand external as well as internal pressure. Bolsonaro had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese officials about their respective Covid-19 vaccines, he said, adding: "They are nations that we are friendly with, and as soon as they (vaccines) are approved we can include them in our immunisation programme".