Last month a British-Swedish biopharmaceutical group announced its plans to develop and mass-produce a COVID-19 vaccine before the year ends. It was reported the AstraZeneca will receive a little over $1 billion in funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Moreover, it is in partnership with the University of Oxford and is expected to deliver almost 400 million doses once the testing phases proves its effectiveness. The most recent update about it now confirms that Brazil has signed up to be one of the countries to participate.

The announcement was made by the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (ANVISA), which will see 2,000 volunteers join the clinical trials. According to Fox News, the country is currently one of the hardest-hit when it comes to COVID-19 cases. Just last week, it recorded 1,473 deaths on Thursday which pushed the total number of deaths to more than 34,000. Moreover, this purportedly places it above Italy for the "world's third-deadliest outbreak."

Another worrying fact is that the numbers published might still be below the actual count as there is insufficient testing. Health officials stated: "Brazil is a priority for the study because of the ascendant curve of the COVID-19." Meanwhile, Federal University of Sao Paulo' Reference Center for Special Immunobiologicals (CRIE) coordinator, Lily Yin Weckx, noted that "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 assertive."

It appears that pre-clinical studies of AZD1222 have already shown promising results. Thus, regulators granted their approval for it to proceed to the next phase of human trials. Depending on the findings, of its latest slew of tests, the manufacturer hopes to deliver an estimated 30 million doses by September.

Brazil has become Latin America's virus epicentre
Brazil has become Latin America's virus epicentre. Photo: AFP / CARL DE SOUZA

Meanwhile, despite the multiple advancements when it comes to testing and treating COVID-19, experts still urge people to follow the safety guidelines issued by health officials. In a related report, the ongoing protests in the United States and other parts of the world are likely to cause another huge spike of new infections. In fact, some countries who have recently lifted restrictions are now reporting new outbreaks.