Brazil's Butantan expects less COVID-19 vaccine input from China

BRASILIA, May 6 (Reuters) - Brazil’s Butantan biomedical center, which is producing the Chinese vaccine CoronaVac for COVID-19, said on Thursday that it expects to receive only 2,000 liters of active ingredients from China by May 13, slowing its production of finished shots.

Butantan had expected a shipment of 6,000 liters in the first half of May of the active ingredient, which is the part of the vaccine made from the actual virus and used in minuscule quantities in each dose.

The vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech is the most common COVID-19 shot administered in Brazil, which is facing the deadliest pandemic in the world after the United States and is desperately in need of more vaccines.

Butantan has so far delivered in total 43 million doses of CoronaVac to the Health Ministry for the national immunization program. The Chinese vaccine accounts for 75% of all vaccines applied so far against COVID-19 in Brazil, the ministry said.

Sinovac sends the vaccine’s active ingredient to Brazil for Butantan to fill and finish in vaccine vials.

Covas said that the delay in the arrival of inputs from China was due to bureaucratic issues and not because of any problem in production by Sinovac.

He said recent anti-China statements by federal government officials made it difficult for the Chinese authorities to release active ingredient shipments for Brazil, delaying deliveries and resulting in smaller quantities.

China’s embassy in Brazil did not immediately respond to request for comment. (Additional reporting by Eduardo Simoes; writing by Anthony Boadle Editing by Alistair Bell)