First Two Brazilian COVID-19 Vaccines Ready for Human Trials

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil on Friday unveiled its first two domestically developed COVID-vaccine candidates for human trials, which although months away from use, should eventually add firepower to help the country tame the pandemic.

Brazil health regulator Anvisa said it had received a request to start phase 1-2 testing of a Brazilian-developed vaccine known as Versamune. The vaccine was developed by the University of Sao Paulo Ribeirão Preto, in conjunction with Farmacore and PDS Biotechnology, Anvisa said.

Brazil’s Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Marcos Pontes said the Versamune vaccine was one of three federally supported shots.

Earlier on Friday, Sao Paulo’s Butantan biomedical institute said it will seek approval to begin human trials for its own vaccine, based on a viral “vector” developed by researchers at New York’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the University of Texas at Austin, and made with egg-based technology Buntantan already uses in producing flu vaccines. Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria said the goal was to begin inoculations with the vaccine in July, an aggressive timeline even compared to the recent race for COVID-19 shots.

Butantan aims to produce 40 million doses of the new Butanvac vaccine this year, starting in May, officials said, which would help a sputtering national immunization program that has done little to stop Brazil’s raging outbreak.

Doria told a news conference that Butanvac production will not interfere with the the state-funded institute’s partnership to produce and distibute a COVID-19 shot developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd.

Butantan officials said the new vaccine had been designed to protect against the contagious P1 variant of the coronavirus, which emerged in the Amazon region last year and is fueling a deadly second wave of cases overwhelming the country’s hospitals.

Butantan plans to test the vaccine on 1,800 volunteers over two phases, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters ahead of the official announcement.

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