Brazilian companies leaving talks to acquire AstraZeneca's vaccine due to repercussion

José Velloso, CEO at Abimaq, said that the negotiation is with AstraZeneca's partner fund BlackRock in the UK; BlackRock and AstraZeneca denies any deal

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  • BlackRock denied the deal, but Abimaq, that is part of the Brazilian private group interested in the immunizer, stated that negotiations are on course;
  • According to Abimaq’s CEO, the companies intend to bring more doses to the country since the deal is that 50% of the acquired vaccines would go to SUS (Brazilian public health system).

Brazilian Machinery Builders’ Association (Abimaq, in the acronym in Portuguese) CEO, José Velloso, said on Thursday that a part of the pool of Brazilian companies that were supposedly in talks to acquire Oxford/AstraZeneca‘s vaccine via BlackRock, the partner fund of AstraZeneca, in the United Kingdom, is leaving negotiations. They want to vaccinate their employees. To LABS, AstraZeneca and BlackRock’s representatives denied (again) any ongoing negotiation.

On Friday, he reiterated that the project continues despite all the negatives from AstraZeneca and BlackRock, but that the entrepreneurs’ associations will only manifest themselves “when the vaccines arrived.”

“Many companies left. They are giving up (the 50%) donation (of the doses) because of the reputation issue; lots of headlines in the newspapers. Success is much less likely to happen now,” stated Velloso at a GloboNews interview on Brazilian television on Thursday.

“We are still in an embryonic phase to see if we can assemble these three batches of vaccine. I tell you that until Monday it was easier. Between Wednesday and Thursday because of the press, many companies are calling me and leaving (negotiations) because they are companies listed on the stock exchange or companies that sell consumer goods, and those that have the reputation issue in the first place are logically frightened. Even if it is for good, for the purpose of removing from the (vaccination) queue 8 million people, people in need of the first priority, companies start to be worried about it,” he said.

On Wednesday during a press conference, when first asked by LABS about the vaccines, Velloso said that “we are not buying the vaccines from AstraZeneca nor Oxford or Serum Institute. We are buying it from BlackRock fund in the UK”.

According to him, as BlackRock is one of the partners of AstraZeneca, it has invested in the pharmaceutical firm for the development of vaccines, under the condition that if the vaccine worked, the payments would be made in jabs. “So BlackRock in the UK already has vaccines. These are the vaccines the pool is negotiating.”

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On Tuesday, AstraZeneca pharmaceutical firm said to O Estado de São Paulo that it will not sell vaccines to the private sector. “All doses of the vaccine are available through agreements signed with governments and multilateral organizations around the world, (…) it is not possible to make vaccines available to the private market,” said the company in Brazil.

But, according to Velloso, the vaccines that the group of entrepreneurs is dealing with (three batches of 11 million doses) are from BlackRock in the UK, not from AstraZeneca, neither from BlackRock in Brazil. That is the cause of misunderstanding, according to him. “If the deal is closed, vaccines would get to Brazil in seven days.” However, AstraZeneca told LABS that it has not supplied BlackRock.

READ ALSO: Brazilian government endorses private companies to buy vaccine against COVID-19

In an official statement sent to LABS on Thursday, Black Rock said that has no agreement with any COVID-19 vaccine supplier to acquire the vaccine and specifically has never engaged in any discussions related to Brazilian businesses’ effort to acquire the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

These rumors are completely false. Authorities around the world have warned about schemes related to the supposed commercialization of vaccines, and it’s important that businesses and governments remain vigilant,” it added. BlackRock is a global firm, and this statement applies for BlackRock in all of its locations, including London.

An AstraZeneca spokesperson said to LABS that “over the past 7 months, we have worked tirelessly to deliver on our commitment to broad equitable access and supply the vaccine as many countries around the world as possible. For now, all doses of the vaccine are available under agreements signed with governments and multilateral organizations around the world, including a Covax facility and it is not possible to make it available
to the private market at this time. As part of our agreement with FIOCRUZ, over 100 million AZD1222 doses will be available in Brazil, in partnership with the Federal Government.”

Brazil’s group wants to vaccinate all employees for $95,16 each

According to Velloso, the condition for the acquisition of vaccines by private companies is the donation of 50% of the doses to the Brazilian public health system (SUS, in the acronym in Portuguese). Companies could acquire the doses for $23,97 each (without considering import taxes).

According to a document sent by Abimaq to its associates, as two doses are required, every entrepreneur should acquire four doses for each employee (due to the SUS agreement). So, the cost of the vaccine would be $95,16 for each employee.

According to Abimaq, if a Brazilian group of businessmen didn’t acquire the vaccines, BlackRock would negotiate them with South African and Saudi Arabian companies. Velloso said that, in the beginning, 300 companies had expressed the desire to participate in the acquisition.

The importation of the vaccine was allowed by the Brazilian government. According to the association, the logistics operation would happen via BRZ Trading firm from Rede D’Or, Brazil’s largest hospital chain. Gol Airlines would conduct the free of charge transportation of them.

In a statement sent to LABS, Gol Airlines said that “GOL is available for free air transport of vaccines, according to the demands and guidelines defined by the Ministry of Health’s logistical operation to carry out travel between the cities that are indicated, within its broad and national commercial operation. The service is operated by Gol and GOLLOG according to the specifications indicated by the manufacturers. Transportation is done by the GOLLOG SAÚDE service, which has employees trained in accordance with good medicine handling practices, to speed up distribution.”

Velloso added that the association took part in the deal due to the guarantee that these vaccines wouldn’t get to Brazil via the federal government because the country doesn’t have deals with BlackRock – meaning that the private negotiation could bring to Brazil 16 million extra doses.

(Updated on Friday, 3:45 pm)

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