Brazil's health regulator has halted clinical trials of the potential coronavirus vaccine CoronaVac, citing an "adverse, serious event." Adversaries of President Jair Bolsonaro said they feared the decision was motivated not by science but by the leader's political hostility to the country and state involved in producing the vaccine candidate, the AP reports. The potential vaccine is being developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac and in Brazil would be mostly produced by Sao Paulo's state-run Butantan Institute. About 10,000 volunteers are taking part in the Phase 3 tests in one of the nations hardest hit by COVID-19. Sao Paulo state health authorities said in a press conference on Tuesday that the health regulator, Anvisa, sent a single email Monday night saying the tests should be halted.
"Such news coming the way it did causes our surprise, insecurity, and, in our case, indignation," said Dimas Covas, the head of the Butantan Institute. The "serious event" cited by the regulator is believed to be the death of a volunteer, the BBC reports. Sao Paulo authorities said the incident with the volunteer was unrelated to the trials. "We found this Anvisa decision strange, because it is unrelated to the vaccine," Covas said. "There are more than 10,000 volunteers at this moment." Bolsonaro has been feuding with the governor of Sao Paulo, Joao Doria, who supports the CoronaVac trial. In a Facebook post, the president said halting the trial was "another victory for Jair Bolsonaro." The president has said he supports a different vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca.
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