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Brazil resumes export of yellow fever vaccines


Regina Xeyla (Agência Saúde)


After a pause of more than two years in the export of yellow fever vaccines, Brazil has resumed its installed capacity, by means of Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), to meet 100% of the national demand as well as to sell to other countries. Between 2017 and 2018, the country suspended its exports of the vaccine to focus its production on the Brazilian population, which was then facing an outbreak of the disease. Another important factor for this return to production was the approval of Law 13.801/2019, which determines that the resources acquired with the export of these vaccines is to be returned to Fiocruz, thus allowing for re-investment on the production of yellow fever and other vaccines and on research. The Institute of Technology in Immunobiologicals (Bio-Manguinhos), of Fiocruz, will therefore be supplying, between 2019 and 2020, 23 million doses of vaccine to the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and to the Unicef. 

The announcement was given by the Brazilian Minister of Health, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, on October 22, in Rio de Janeiro, during the 20th annual meeting of the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers Network (DCVMN). The three days meeting was attended by the director of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), Carissa Etienne, as well as by representatives of the World Health Organization, of the Unicef, of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and other institutions. Fifty-nine specialists from Brazil and from 13 other countries were also be present. Some of the subjects discussed were technological breakthroughs in this sector, equitable access to vaccines worldwide, and the current challenges of the industry, focusing on the role played by developing countries and on opportunities of partnerships. 

Brazil is the world’s biggest manufacturer of yellow fever vaccines, with each dose costing R$ 4.15 (about US$ 1). To this day, only three other countries produce this vaccine: Russia, France and Senegal. As Brazilian exports of the vaccine are resumed, 1.2 million doses have already been made available by Fiocruz. By means of Bio-Manguinhos, in addition to meeting the needs of the regular programs by the Ministry of Health and emergency situations in Brazil, Fiocruz also plays a role in containing outbreaks and epidemics on a global scale. The institute’s yellow fever vaccine has been pre-qualified by the World Health Organization since 2001, which makes it suitable for purchase by United Nations agencies. Since then, more than 160 million doses have been exported to more than 70 countries in which yellow fever is an endemic disease. 

With the goal of strengthening its committment to the global elimination of public health diseases, by means of its intention to expand the capacity of production and of technological innovation in the country, the Ministry of Health, through a public-private model, will invest 3 billion reais in the building of the Industrial Complex of Biotechnology for Health (Cibs, in the Portuguese acronym), in Santa Cruz, Rio de Janeiro. The plant will have the capacity to produce 120 million vials per year, for up to 1 billion doses per year, depending on the blend of products. Another important action to be taken is a global sponsoring initiative coordinated by the Ministry of Health, with the support of Fiocruz, with the goal of providing incentive to projects in an advanced stage of development for vaccines, for the application of new technologies and the facing of neglected diseases such as malaria. In this context, a vaccine against schistosomiasis is already being developed by Fiocruz.

Within the Movimento Vacina Brasil vaccination movement, which relies on a series of integrated actions by the Ministry of Health to improve vaccine coverage, the support of vaccine development provided by the Brazilian government aims to contribute to achieve the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”, focusing on fighting diseases preventable through vaccination; and “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”.

International summit

Vaccines, innovation for good. With this slogan, the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers Network (DCVMN) held its 20th Annual General Meeting, between October 21 and 24, at the Sheraton Hotel in Rio de Janeiro. The meeting launched the celebrations of the 120th anniversary of Fundação Oswaldo Cruz and included a visit to Fiocruz vaccine production laboratories.

Created in 2000, the DCVMN initiative currently includes 50 manufacturers in 17 countries and territories, producing and supplying more than 40 types of vaccines in different versions, for a total of 200 products, of which 40 are pre-qualified by the WHO. The purpose of the network is to strengthen and boost production and innovation to meet the challenges of global health with efficient, effective vaccines that are accessible to all.

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