Brazil is sending an aircraft to India after the South Asian nation’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, agreed to expedite vaccine shipment to the South American country.
The Serum Institute of India Pvt., the world’s largest producer of vaccines by volume, will supply 2 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford to Brazil, according to the nation’s Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello.
Serum’s Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla in an interview this month said he expected overseas supplies to only start around March, adding that the government will enable overseas sales after first meeting India’s initial requirements.
A spokesman for Serum didn’t respond to a text message seeking comment on the sale to Brazil, while an Indian foreign ministry spokesman declined to comment. India will be able to decide on exports of the vaccines within the next few weeks, foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said on Tuesday.
Poonawalla said at a conference organized by Reuters on Thursday that Serum expects to start supplying the World Health Organization’s Covax initiative -- that aims to pool vaccines for lower income countries -- by the end of January.
South Africa has also said Serum has agreed to supply it with the vaccine this month. The Pune-based company hasn’t publicly confirmed the deal with the African nation.
India hasn’t reached an agreement with Brazil on the pricing for the vaccine yet, a person with knowledge of the matter said, asking not to be identified before a public announcement.
Brazil with more than 8 million cases has the third-highest infections in the world. More than 200,000 people have been killed by the virus. The rush to buy vaccine from India comes at a time President Jair Bolsonaro has refused to be vaccinated, and shown that he’s in no hurry to negotiate with drug companies.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Pazuello is taking action and said the government is negotiating with vaccine makers.
--With assistance from Archana Chaudhary and Muneeza Naqvi.