First doses of China's CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine arrive in Brazil

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FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration
FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The first 120,000 doses of CoronaVac, a COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech that is being tested in Brazil, arrived at São Paulo's international airport on Thursday morning, the state government said.

The doses will be stored in an undisclosed warehouse as the state awaits approval for use in Brazil by the national health regulator known as Anvisa.

The cargo, which arrived in seven refrigerated containers, is part of a batch of 6 million doses that are being imported from China ready for use in January.

Sao Paulo authorities have not estimated the timing for distribution. At press conferences in recent days the government said final Phase 3 trials to assess the efficacy and safety of the vaccine were still ongoing in Brazil, Indonesia and Turkey.

Approval of Coronavac will not be concluded before Dec. 21 and could take until the first week of January, Anvisa manager for inspections Ronaldo Gomes told reporters on Wednesday.

A team of Anvisa inspectors are now in Beijing completing a two-week quarantine period in a hotel before they can visit a Sinovac lab to certify the vaccine for good manufacturing practices required to register it in Brazil, he said.

(Reporting by Amanda Perobelli and Eduardo Simões Writing by Sabrina Valle; Editing by Mark Heinrich)