Brazil Senate votes to suspend patent protection on COVID-19 vaccines

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a “Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine” sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s Senate on Thursday approved a bill to suspend patent protection for COVID-19 vaccines, tests and medications during the pandemic, sending the proposal to the lower house of Congress for consideration and possible amendments.

It remains unclear if lower house lawmakers will pass the bill, with implications for pharmaceutical firms such as AstraZeneca and China’s Sinovac Biotech SVA.O, which have arranged local production of their COVID-19 vaccines.

U.S. firm Pfizer also made its first delivery of coronavirus vaccines to Brazil on Thursday evening.

The government of President Jair Bolsonaro has publicly opposed proposals to suspend patent protections, arguing that such a move could endanger talks with vaccine producers.

Brazil on Thursday saw its death toll from the pandemic pass 400,000, the second-highest tally in the world after the United States. Experts say that Brazil’s slow vaccine rollout is likely to keep the daily death toll high for months.

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