Brazil Senate Inquiry Follows the Money in ‘Scandalous’ Covaxin Deal with India

Jagadeesh Tamilselvan 23 Jun 2021 235

As Brazilian streets swell with anger against Bolsonaro, a parliamentary commission turns its focus on corruption in the government’s deal with Bharat Biotech for the most expensive vaccine which is yet to get approval from health regulators...

In November 2020, when Bharat Biotech offered to sell its indigenously-made COVID-19 vaccine – Covaxin – to Brazil with the possibility of technology transfer, it was showcased as India’s growing prowess. Eight months later, not a single dose of the vaccine has been given to anyone in Brazil.

Instead, the deal between the Indian company and Brazil’s ministry of health, brokered by a local firm, has become the main focus of the parliamentary commission of inquiry (CPI), which is investigating the handling of the pandemic by the government of President Jair Bolsonaro. Suspecting corruption in the deal, the senators are now treating it like a scandal as they sniff the money trail in the 1.6 billion reals ($300 million) contract for 20 million doses, the most expensive deal made by this country with each dose costing $15.

The parliamentary probe, which has already put Bolsonaro in a spot for promoting “preventive treatments” like hydroxychloroquine, is now focusing on why the president, who has repeatedly doubted the efficacy of vaccines like Pfizer and delayed their acquisition, pushed for a costly vaccine which was not even approved by the Brazilian drug regulator or the World Health Organisation.

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