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Business News/ Companies / News/  Brazil suspends $320 million deal with  Bharat Biotech  for  Covaxin
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Brazil suspends $320 million deal with  Bharat Biotech  for  Covaxin

The firm denies any wrongdoing in  the  contract for the vaccine, including the pricing
  • The Brazilian government’s role in procuring Covaxin has been under scrutiny, given the price, at $15 per dose, is the highest for any vaccine
  • Photo: MintPremium
    Photo: Mint

    NEW DELHI : Brazil has suspended the contract for 20 million doses of Bharat Biotech International’s Covaxin worth about $320 million following a controversy over alleged irregularities in procurement and pricing.

    The suspension, effective Tuesday, follows a recommendation by the Comptroller General of the Union (CGU). However, the government led by President Jair Bolsonaro refuted all allegations. “According to CGU’s preliminary analysis, there are no irregularities in the contract, but, due to compliance, the @minsaude (Brazil’s health ministry) opted to suspend the contract for further analysis," Brazil health minister Marcelo Queiroga said on Twitter early Wednesday.

    The contract between Bharat Biotech and Brazil’s Precisa Medicamentos has been at the centre of a political storm following a report by the parliamentary commission of inquiry on the Bolsonaro administration’s handling of the pandemic.

    Among major issues, the government’s role in procuring the vaccine has been under scrutiny, considering that the price, at $15 per dose, is the highest for any vaccine, including those developed by Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc, Brazil has paid for so far.

    According to a report by CNN, members of the parliamentary panel said the agreed upon price was around 1,000% higher than what was initially quoted by the firm. Email exchanges between Bharat Biotech and the ministry showed an initial quoted price of $1.34 per dose, which later rose to $15 per dose after the contract was negotiated, according to a Parliamentary Inquiry Committee (CPI) statement, the report said.

    In a statement on Wednesday, Bharat Biotech said it had committed no wrong in the supply contract for the covid vaccine, including the pricing, which was set at $15-20 for export markets. “The pricing of Covaxin has been clearly established at $15-20 per dose for supplies to governments outside India. The pricing for Brazil has also been indicated at $15 per dose. Bharat Biotech has received advance payments from several other countries at the above price points, with supplies in process, pending approvals," it said in a statement.

    On 4 June, Covaxin was authorized by Brazil’s drug regulator, Anvisa, and a Phase 3 trial comprising 5,000 participants is being conducted by the Albert Einstein Institute at Sao Paulo.

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    Updated: 30 Jun 2021, 11:04 PM IST
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