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Brazil sees 1,803 COVID-19 deaths; Chinese vaccine found 50.7% effective against variant

Sun 11th April, 2021 11:11pm
SAO PAULO, April 11 (Reuters) - Brazil on Sunday recorded
1,803 new COVID-19 deaths, as a large study found that a Chinese
vaccine that has become the linchpin in the country's
vaccination campaign is 50.7% effective against the infectious
new homegrown variant known as P1.
    Brazil, which has in recent weeks become the global
epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, saw over 37,000 new
cases, the Health Ministry said on Sunday. With over 353,000
deaths, Latin America's biggest country has the second highest
coronavirus death toll in the world, after the United States.
    The outbreak has recently reached its most severe phase due 
to a lack of federal restrictions, a patchy vaccine rollout and
the P1 variant. 
    Sao Paulo's Butantan biomedical institute, which tested and
is now producing the CoronaVac vaccine developed by China's 
Sinovac Biotech Ltd  SVA.O , said on Sunday a study it conducted
found the shot had an efficacy rate of 50.7% against the P1
variant, and a less widespread strain known as P2.
    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a China hawk and vaccine
skeptic who has come under fire for his handling of the
outbreak, initially said his government would not buy the
Sinovac shot, but later made a U-turn as his government
struggled to secure supplies. Since then, the Chinese shot has
become the most widely administered one in the country. 
    Butantan said that if the second dose is delayed by more
than two weeks, the efficacy rises to 62.3%. The vaccine has an
efficacy of between 83.7% and 100% at preventing those infected
from requiring medical assistance, it said.
    The study, which it said had been sent to the medical
journal The Lancet for publication, tested 12,400 volunteers
across Brazil.

 (Reporting by Alexandre Caverni; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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