Covid-19:Health Minister says,Amazon variant 3 times more transmissible
Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello sounds alarm as he suggests that vaccine works against new variants without providing evidence for claims.
A coronavirus variant identified in the Brazilian Amazon may be three times more contagious but early analysis suggests vaccines are still effective against it, the country’s health minister said, without providing evidence for the claims.
He also told a Senate hearing that Brazil would vaccinate half its eligible population by June and the rest by the end of the year an ambitious target as the country has barely guaranteed doses for half the population.
It began immunisations with vaccines made by China’s Sinovac Biotech and Britain’s AstraZeneca about three weeks ago. Pazuello did not explain how their effectiveness against the Manaus variant was analysed.
Some health experts believe the variant, which is less vulnerable to some treatments, has caused a dramatic spike in hospitalisations and deaths in Amazon state. Official government data showed a death rate of 224 per 100,000 – double the national average.
Brazil has reported more 9.7 million coronavirus cases with more than 236,000 deaths from COVID-19 second only to the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. It has begun a vaccination campaign but so far only an estimated 0.5 percent of the population has received the shot.
The European Medicines Agency said it was developing guidance for drug companies planning to adapt COVID-19 vaccines to combat new variants.