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Brazil's Butantan Institute presents ButanVac, the first South American-made vaccine against COVID-19

The vaccine, which uses the same technology as the influenza immunizer, may begin clinical trials in April

Dimas Covas, Butantan's director. Photo: Twitter/Screenshot
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  • The immunizer produced in Brazil will give the largest country in Latin America scientific and technological autonomy over other countries;
  • According to the government of São Paulo, the results of ButanVac’s preclinical trials are promising and already allow the advance for volunteers trials.

Brazilian Butantan Institute announced on Friday ButanVac, the first vaccine 100% Brazilian against COVID-19.

The production of the vaccine should begin later this year, at the Butantan factory that today makes the vaccine against Influenza. ButanVac will be delivered to Brazil in 2021.

The immunizing agent produced in Brazil will give the largest country in Latin America scientific and technological autonomy over other countries. According to São Paulo’s government, the results of ButanVac’s preclinical trials are promising and already allow the advance for tests on volunteers.

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Brazilian health regulator Anvisa is expected to allow clinical trials by April (when Butantan promises to deliver 46 million doses) and that by July Brazil would already have a national vaccine ready to be applied, with 100 million doses delivered by August, according to the governor of São Paulo, João Dória.

According to Dimas Covas, director of Butantan, the vaccine may be in a single dose, as it has a better immune response. But that will be evaluated after the human trial. “We will move forward in phases 1 and 2 and following phase 3 of the trials in an accelerated way, this must be done as it was with CoronaVac, which helps in this process of understanding and authorizing the vaccine so that we can effectively use it in the second half of the year.”

ButanVac volunteers will be people who are not included in the Brazil’s vaccination schedule. According to the Institute, ButanVac does not interfere in the production procedures of CoronaVac (vaccine produced by Butantan in partnership with the Chinese laboratory Sinovac).

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According to Covas, ButanVac uses the same technology as the Influenza vaccine, already produced by Butantan, and is also one of the cheapest. “We expect it to have a much lower cost than that being used in Brazil at the moment,” he said. Besides to the technology, the vaccine will have no logistical or import costs, since it is a Brazilian production.

Asked if the vaccine is effective against the variants, Covas said the Institute is already working on version P1 (a variant of Amazonas) and that if necessary, this vaccine is easily modified for the other strains.

The factory that now produces the flu vaccine and that will produce ButanVac from May can produce 60 million doses per year. Meanwhile, Butantan expects a new plant to be ready on September 30 for the production of CoronaVac.

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ButanVac’s research began a year ago. According to Dória, São Paulo will be able to export the vaccine to Latin America and to technological partners of Butantan, Vietnam, and Thailand, after application in Brazilians.

*UPDATED: This story has been updated. A previous version said that ButanVac is the first Latin America-made COVID-19 vaccine. It is the first South America-made vaccine. In Latin America, Cuba already has two immunizers in phase 3 trials. 

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