Brazil appears to have jumped the gun by officially announcing the despatch of an aircraft to transport two million doses of Covid-19 vaccine from India, with New Delhi making it clear on 14 January that decisions on supplies to foreign countries will take more time.
A statement issued by Brazil’s foreign ministry on 13 January said an Airbus A330neo aircraft of Azul Airlines equipped with special containers was set to fly back from Mumbai with two million doses of vaccine from Serum Institute of India and reach the country on 16 January.
People familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity that any supplies contracted for by foreign countries, including Brazil, would be provided by India in due course though a timeframe for this is yet to be finalised.
“India stands by its commitment to help the world and all countries will get the vaccines,” one of the people cited above said.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s office announced on 8 January that he had written a letter to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to expedite a shipment of two million doses of AstraZeneca’s Covishield vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India. Bolsonaro is facing pressure to rollout the vaccine from political rivals, including some who have shown a preference for the Chinese vaccine.
“To [ensure] the immediate implementation of the Brazilian National Programme of Immunisation, I would highly appreciate your good offices in expediting the shipment of two million doses of the vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India to Brazil urgently, but as long as it does not impact the Indian vaccination programme,” Bolsonaro wrote in the letter in Portuguese.
The Brazilian foreign ministry’s statement, in Portuguese, said the health ministry had “purchased” the doses from the Serum Institute of India and that the Brazilian embassy had “made arrangements with the Indian authorities and the Serum Institute of India, following the letter from President Jair Bolsonaro to Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.
The statement spoke of plans to distribute the vaccines to Brazil’s states within five days after endorsement by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) to start immunisation across the country, simultaneously and free of charge. It described the “successful acquisition of doses” from India as a demonstration of the “excellent” Brazil-India relations.
Asked about the matter during a weekly news briefing, external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said it was too early to discuss vaccine exports as India’s immunisation programme is set to be rolled out on 9 January.
“You would recall that the prime minister had already stated that India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used for the benefit of all humanity in fighting this crisis,” Srivastava said.
“As you would know, the vaccination process is just starting in India. It is too early to give a specific response on the supplies to other countries as we are still assessing production schedules and delivery. We will take decisions in this regard in due course, this may take some time.”