Investor Alert

Jan. 17, 2021, 4:56 p.m. EST

Brazil OKs two COVID-19 vaccines, starts rollout

By Samantha Pearson

Brazil began its Covid-19 vaccine rollout Sunday with the shot developed by China's Sinovac, minutes after its approval by regulators, promising to bring relief to a country that is struggling to cope with a surge in infections.

The country's health regulator, Anvisa, approved emergency use of the Chinese vaccine, known as CoronaVac, as well as the shot developed by AstraZeneca PLC and Oxford University.

The ruling follows a bitter tug of war between President Jair Bolsonaro and São Paulo's powerful state governor, João Doria, to secure the first vaccines for the country of more than 210 million people.

Gov. Doria, who is expected to run for president next year, has led a partnership with Chinese company Sinovac Biotech Ltd. to test and produce CoronaVac in São Paulo, criticizing what he has called a "genocidal" lack of action by Mr. Bolsonaro.

The dispute comes as the country's average daily death toll approaches 1,000 people, with scientists warning that a new variant that likely emerged in the Amazon could be partly responsible for a recent surge in infections. For the past week, Brazil has registered an average of more than 50,000 new cases of the disease each day -- the highest since the pandemic began.

Write to Samantha Pearson at samantha.pearson@wsj.com and Luciana Magalhaes at Luciana.Magalhaes@wsj.com

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