World News

Brazilian state of Bahia to test Russia's vaccine, plans to buy 50 million doses

BRASILIA/MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Brazilian state of Bahia has signed an agreement to conduct Phase III clinical trials of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 and plans to buy 50 million doses to market in Brazil, officials have said.

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labelled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The Russian vaccine is being developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Research Institute and marketed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which last month also entered an agreement with the Brazilian state of Paraná to test and produce the vaccine.

Russia will sell up to 50 million doses of the Sputnik-V vaccine to Bahia state, RDIF said in a statement.

Governor Rui Costa said an agreement was signed this week to undertake the trials and Bahia will receive an initial 500 doses as soon as Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa approves the protocol for testing.

Bahia is one of several Brazilian states that have struck out on their own to secure access to COVID-19 vaccines, motivated at least in part by a distrust of the federal government’s response.

Deliveries are expected to start in November subject to approval by Brazil’s regulators, RDIF said.

Russia has touted Sputnik as the first vaccine against coronavirus to be registered in the world, even though Phase III trials have yet to be completed.

A Phase III trial is a large-scale one involving thousands of people - in Russia, 40,000 - over a longer stretch of time.

If the trials that are expected to start in October are successful, Bahia will look to market the Russian vaccine in Brazil through its pharmaceutical research center Bahiafarma, said Fabio Vilas-Boas Pinto, Bahia state Health Secretary.

Brazil has the world’s third largest number of cases, with more than 4 million confirmed cases.

RDIF has already signed several deals to export the vaccine abroad. Kazakhstan is set to buy more than 2 million doses initially and could later increase the volume to 5 million doses.

It has also agreed to sell 32 million doses to a private company in Mexico, Landsteiner Scientific.

Separately on Friday, RDIF said more than one billion people would receive its vaccine in 2020-21, according to a report on the Interfax news agency.

The fund said this week it expects to supply up to 100 million doses of the vaccine to Latin America, around a fifth of what it expects to be able to produce annually through global manufacturing partnerships.

India will be producing 300 million doses of the vaccine.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle in Brasilia and Polina Ivanova in Moscow; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Frances Kerry