Hard hit Brazil will be the first nation to test the Oxford University vaccine for the new SARS. Two-thousand volunteers working on the front lines against the virus will be chosen for the trial, which will begin in Sāo Paulo this month.
Denis Mizne, executive director of the Lemann Foundation, the group that is financing the São Paulo trials, called it “an important milestone” for Brazil. The Foundation was funded and created by Jorge Paulo Lemann and his family. Lemann became a billionaire thanks to investments in Brazilian beer giant AmBev and Heinz through his private equity firm 3G Capital.
Brazil has definitely seen its better days, so a successful trial run in fighting the disease would life everyone’s spirits. Brazil is on the cusp of surpassing the United States in terms of coronavirus cases after fits-and-starts in fighting the infection curve early on.
The trial will be conducted in cahoots with Brazil’s Ministry of Health, a division of the executive branch that has gone through two health chiefs in less than a month due to disagreements with president Jair Bolsonaro. They are now on their third.
As part of the Oxford trial’s design, participants will receive the vaccine and then continue being exposed to the virus normally in their day-to-day work.
The project to bring the trials to Brazil was spearheaded by Professor Sue Ann Costa Clemens, director of the Institute for Global Health at the University of Siena in Italy, a Brazilian researcher specializing in infectious diseases and vaccine prevention.
Italy was one of the earliest and hardest-hit countries and was later the source of the viral outbreak in Brazil in February.
Brazil, the second most populous country in the Americas after the U.S., is a said to be a key part of the global development plan to test the Oxford vaccine because of its current position on the infection curve.
“The most important thing is to carry out this stage of the study now when the epidemiological curve is still rising and the results may be more decisive,” said Dr. Lily Yin Weckx, principal investigator of the study and coordinator of the program in Brazil.
What looked like peak coronavirus two weeks ago took a turn for the worst as other cities outside of Rio and São Paulo started to see a rise in cases.
Brazil has been the source of controversy in the global coronavirus drama. Some are waiting for a vaccine. Others think cheap therapeutics will do just fine.
Twitter censored a tweet by Bolsonaro over his touting of hydroxycholorquine (HCQ), a drug that has been rejected by the mainstream as some sort of anti-science herbal remedy. Brazilian hospitals have been using it as a prophylactic..
When President Trump said he was taking it, many in the U.S. media, including Neil Cavuto of Fox News, warned viewers that it was so deadly, the president could die.
London scientific journal “The Lancet”, which actually called for the ouster of Bolsonaro last month, recently published what is known as an “Expression of Inquiry” after more than 200 scientists — including virologists and others in the medical field — called them out for a peer reviewed study published by a mysterious company called Surgisphere about how HCQ was actually bad for coronavirus patients. The World Health Organization then banned on studies on HCQ and recommended doctors not administer it for Covid-19 patients. Lancet’s Expression is close to a retraction on the drug Bolsonaro said early on was worth taking for those stricken by the virus. The WHO reinstated its use and studies on Wednesday.