Brazil to suspend Indian vaccine contract for 20mn doses as graft allegations probed

Amid a probe into accusations of irregularities against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, their health minister has announced that the Brazil will suspend a USD 324 million contract to buy 20 million doses of India’s Covaxin vaccine.

Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga, along with the head of the Federal Comptroller General (CGU) Wagner Rosario, addressing a press conference on Tuesday, said that the agency will investigate the process of purchasing the vaccine.

“We suspended the deal as a simple preventive measure, since there are complaints that could not be explained well by the complainant, so we opened a preliminary investigation last week,” said Rosario, as quoted by CNN Brasil.

Brazil’s Health minister said that his ministry is going to execute an administrative investigation to find out all aspects of the issue that are being raised. “As soon as we have more concrete data, we will communicate,” he added.

The deal to pruchase 20 million doses of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin shot has become a headache for the Brazilian President after sources went public with doubts over irregularities. One Health Ministry official said that he had personally alerted the president about these concerns.

The contract for the purchase of the Covaxin was signed by both sides in February for the import of 20 million doses of vaccine by Bharat Biotech.

The vaccine shots were never sent to Brazil, as the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) denied import requests for the Covaxin vaccine, according to CNN.

The negotiation between the Bolsonaro government and Need Medicines, the Brazilian pharmaceutical company that brokered the deal has been under the inquiry. Currently, the contract is being probed by a country’s Senate panel investigating the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Accused of disregarding possible corruption in a deal to buy Covid-19 vaccines, President Bolsonaro has condemned the senate committee probing the government’s Covid-19 response, saying that it is aimed at hindering his administration.

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