New Delhi: Indian pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech said it followed a “step-by-step” approach for the regulatory approval and supply contract of its COVID-19 vaccine in Brazil, and that it has not received advance payments from the Brazilian health ministry.
“In the specific case of procurement of COVAXIN by MOH Brazil, since the first meetings with MOH Brazil during Nov 2020, until June 29, 2021, a step by step approach has been followed towards contracts, and regulatory approvals, during this eight-month-long process. Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) received on June 4. As of June 29, Bharat Biotech has not received any advance payments nor supplied any vaccines to MOH Brazil. Bharat Biotech has followed a similar approach towards contracts, regulatory approvals and supplies in several countries worldwide, where COVAXIN is being supplied successfully,” Bharat Biotech said in a statement on Wednesday.
The clarification comes after an investigation into accusations of irregularities against President Jair Bolsonaro surfaced. On Tuesday, Brazil’s health minister has confirmed that the country will suspend a USD 324 million contract to buy 20 million doses of Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 Vaccine Covaxin.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare too supported Bharat Biotech’s claim but added that it is choosing to suspend the contract for a more ‘in-depth analysis’.
“According to the preliminary analysis of the CGU [Comptroller General of the Union], there are no irregularities in the contract but, for compliance, the Health Ministry chose to suspend the contract for a more in-depth analysis,” the ministry statement read.
Currently, the contract is being probed by a country’s Senate panel investigating the government’s handling of the pandemic.
Brazilian President Bolsonaro is being accused of overlooking possible corruption in a deal to purchase coronavirus vaccines. Bolsonaro has slammed the senate committee probing the government’s Covid-19 response, saying that it is aimed at undermining his administration.
Brazilian congressman Luis Miranda and his brother Luis Ricardo Miranda denounced the government deal with Bharat Biotech to procure 20 million doses of Indian Covid-19 Vaccine Covaxin.
In Brazil, Covaxin is reportedly purchased at $15 a dose whereas suppliers like Pfizer offer COVID-19 vaccine at a much lower price. The brothers allege wrongdoing in a $323-million deal between the Brazilian government and Bharat Biotech International for the COVID-19 vaccine. The deal was signed between the two in February 2021.