Brazil's Fiocruz seeks AstraZeneca emergency use, in step toward vaccine rollout

FILE PHOTO: Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s state-run Fiocruz institute has sought an emergency use authorisation for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine it plans to import, federal health regulator Anvisa said on Friday, providing hope that immunizations could begin this month.

The authorization Fiocruz is seeking is for a 2 million dose, off-the-shelf shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines imported from India’s Serum Institute, Anvisa said.

As part of the federal government’s deal with AstraZeneca, the company will later send active ingredients to Brazil for Fiocruz to fill-and-finish the vaccine, and eventually produce it entirely.

The emergency use authorization is an important step for Brazil to kickstart its vaccine rollout, which has come in for criticism for its slow pace. Anvisa aims to determine whether to approve the measure withing 10 days, meaning inoculations could potentially begin this month.

The government has said it aims to begin vaccinations in January, with a best-case-scenario of Jan. 20.

Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Editing by Alex Richardson