Brazilian institute says Sinovac vaccine works for UK and South African variants

By Leonardo Benassatto

SERRANA, Brazil, Feb 17 (.) – The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Chinese company Sinovac Biotech is effective against the English and South African variants, the company’s Brazilian partner said on Wednesday, citing the results of tests carried out in China.

“We have tested this vaccine in China against the English and South African variants, with good results,” said Dimas Covas, director of the Butantan biomedical center in Sao Paulo, which led local trials of the Chinese vaccine and is supplying doses to the Ministry of Health of Brazil.

Covas did not elaborate on the exact efficacy of the vaccine against these strains.

Butantan is also testing the vaccine, known as CoronaVac, against the Brazilian variant of the virus that appeared in the city of Manaus, he said.

“We will have the results soon and we are very sure that it will fulfill its role,” said the director.

Covas spoke at a press conference in the small city of Serrana, in the interior of the state of Sao Paulo, where Butantan began on Wednesday a mass vaccination campaign aimed at inoculating the entire adult population against COVID-19 to see if it decreases the infection rate.

The official added that he expects CoronaVac to have an advantage over other vaccines because of the technology it uses: an inactivated version of a coronavirus strain.

The efficacy of the Chinese vaccine against the Brazilian strain in particular will be vital for Brazil. The government has secured 100 million doses and made the vaccine a centerpiece of its inoculation campaign.

Covas’ comments come as several cities in Brazil, including the state capitals of Rio, Salvador and Cuiaba, have suspended new vaccinations after running out of doses. (Report by Leonardo Benassatto Edited in Spanish by Javier López de Lérida)