Vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech on Friday, July 23, said it has terminated its MoU dated November 24, 2020, with its Brazilian partners (Precisa Medicamantos and Envixia Pharmaceuticals LLC) for Covaxin.
The decision comes days after Brazil suspended its $324 million contract for procuring 20 million doses of Covaxin. The company said it had entered into MOU with Precisa and Envixia to introduce Covaxin in Brazil. However, the company said it will continue to work with ANVISA, the Brazilian drug regulatory body. The company, however, said as part of its global supply outreach, it has offered to supply Covaxin to Brazil.
Meanwhile, Brazil on Saturday, July 24, suspended the proposed clinical trial of Covaxin in the country, reported Hindustan Times.
The corruption allegations pertain to buying the Covaxin doses at steeper rates. To buy vaccines, the Brazilian health ministry needed to pay $320 million (₹2,375 crore approximately) to Precisa Medicamentos, which is representing Bharat Biotech in Brazil. So each dose of Covaxin will cost Brazil $15 (approximately ₹ 1,100). Whistleblowers alleged irregularities while striking the vaccine deal. A former employee at the Brazilian health ministry informed the prosecutor's office that he told President Jair Bolsanaro that he had been pressured to sign a contract that would increase the average price of doses by 1,000 percent.
The official said he was under a great deal of pressure to greenlight the import of the Covaxin vaccine and alleged that there were irregularities in the invoices. On July 2, the Supreme Court judge in Brazil opened a criminal investigation into President Jair Bolsonaro's role in the deal. On their part, both Bolsonaro and Bharat Biotech have denied any wrongdoing.