US to send 3 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to Brazil after single-day record in cases

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – The United States on Thursday (June 24) will ship three million doses of the Johnson & Johnson one-shot Covid-19 vaccine to Brazil, the country with the second-highest coronavirus death toll in the world, a White House official said.

The shipment – part of Washington’s pledge to donate 80 million vaccines – will depart Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on an Azul Airlines flight Thursday evening, bound for Campinas, a city in south-eastern Brazil about 100km from Sao Paulo, the official said on Wednesday.

The donation comes as Brazil continues to battle the virus, which has claimed more than half a million lives, aggravating deep political divides ahead of next year’s presidential election and sparking unrest around the country.

Brazil registered a single-day record of 115,228 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday, along with 2,392 deaths from Covid-19.

The country has registered more than 18 million cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 507,109, according to ministry data.

The White House said scientific teams and legal and regulatory authorities from both countries worked together to ensure prompt delivery.

The one-shot J&J vaccine is seen as particularly helpful in ensuring effective vaccination rates in remote areas since it does not require a second dose.

The official said the vaccines had been cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and would come from the supply that the US had immediately available.

Brazil had already given regulatory approval to the J&J vaccine, providing the quickest path to getting a large number of doses to the country immediately, the official added.

Manufacturing of the J&J vaccines at Emergent BioSolutions’ Baltimore plant was halted in April by the FDA following a production error that led to millions of doses being ruined.

The White House official underscored that the doses being shipped to Brazil were safe and stressed they came with no strings attached for the government of President Jair Bolsonaro.

“We are sharing these doses not to secure favours or extract concessions. Our vaccines do not come with strings attached. We are doing this with the singular objective of saving lives,” said the official.

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