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Brasilia, Jul 4 . .- Brazil, the Latin American epicenter of the pandemic, approved the tests of the potential coronavirus vaccine developed by the Chinese company Sinovac and that will be applied to 9,000 volunteers in the country.

The National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), linked to the Ministry of Health, indicated in a note that the tests of the potential vaccine, made from “inactive strains” of the pathogen, will serve to “evaluate its safety and efficacy” in the immunization against COVID-19.

The tests will be carried out, according to the initial forecast, to 9,000 people in the states of Sao Paulo, the most hit in Brazil by the pandemic, Rio Grande do Sul, Minas Gerais and Paraná, as well as in Brasilia, the country’s capital.

The Instituto Butantan de São Paulo research center will coordinate the studies after reaching an agreement with the Chinese laboratory to carry out the third and final phase of clinical tests of the possible vaccine.

This is the second time that Brazilian health authorities have allowed the efficacy of a candidate vaccine against the new coronavirus to be tested in the country, after authorizing trials of the one manufactured by the University of Oxford together with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca last June.

The tests of the latter have already started in a group of 2,000 people and are conducted by the Federal University of Sao Paulo (Unifesp), with the financial support of the Lemann Foundation, of the Brazilian billionaire Jorge Paulo Lemann.

The Ministry of Health announced last week an agreement with the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca that will allow it to produce this vaccine.

The agreement commits Brazil to a disbursement of $ 288 million for acquiring 100 million doses and the transfer of technology for its autonomous production in the country.

The portfolio recognized that it is a risky investment because the vaccine, although it is one of the most promising, is still in its third phase of clinical trials and its efficacy and safety have not yet been proven.

Brazil, with 63,174 deaths, of which 1,290 were registered the last day, and 1.5 million cases, is the second most affected country in the world, after the United States, and the Latin American epicenter of the pandemic.


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What will it take to get a COVID-19 vaccine and how will it be made?

SAN FRANCISCO -- Novel coronavirus is likely going to be with us until a vaccine is developed. We know that COVID-19 attaches to your cells through your mouth and nose and works its way into your lungs where it can spread to other parts of your body. How do we stop it from doing that? With a vaccine. So what does it take to create one?

"A vaccine is a way for your immune system to identify a foreign invader and prepare for an attack even before you have an infection," said ABC7 News special correspondent Dr. Alok Patel.

A vaccine can stop a virus in its tracks, keeping you from getting sick.

"What scientists around the world are trying to do is create a vaccine that is going to teach your immune system what this coronavirus looks like so you are protected from a future infection," said Dr. Patel.

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Vaccines are actually made from part of a bacteria or virus that have lost their ability to replicate and infect a person.

"This could be the outer shell of a bacteria of virus, it could be genetic material, it could even be a weakened version of it," said Dr. Patel.

That weakened version of the coronavirus can be injected into the body and recognized as a foreign invader, called an antigen. That antigen would then let your body know to protect it from the virus.

"What this is basically going to do, is give your immune system an idea of what the virus or bacteria look like," said Dr. Patel.

Before the first person is ever injected with a vaccine, it has to be proven in a lab first.

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"Once they have that part down, and there's an idea that this type of vaccine could work, they then move on to phase one clinical trials," said Dr. Patel.

"Now phase one is going to use a very small amount of healthy adults, and make sure that the vaccine has no adverse side effects," said Dr. Patel. "You have to make sure that the vaccine is safe."

Phase two, would be to test the vaccine on hundreds of people.

At this point, researchers are looking at what the right dose is, and looking at how to scale up production of the vaccine to treat millions of people.

RELATED: '3rd wave' of COVID-19 likely in California, predicts top UCSF epidemiologist

In phase three, thousands of people would be involved in testing to make sure that vaccine is safe and works.

"Now this entire process, you guessed it, can take a couple of years," said Dr. Patel. "This is why, because after phase 3, all this work that these scientists have been doing gets reviewed by both the FDA and CDC."

The whole process typically takes 10 to 15 years before a vaccine can be licensed for use.

"So a lot of people now are saying, 'Whoa, 10 to 15 years that's a really long time,'" said Dr. Patel. "But everything changes when we are accelerating development because we are using previous research, and a lot more collaboration and a lot more funding. Which is why we are hopeful we could see a COVID-19 vaccine within 12 to 18 months."

With dozens of companies already testing out vaccines globally, researchers are hopeful the coronavirus may soon go the way of smallpox, malaria, and polio, and be part of "our" past.

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