Vaccine players in Argentina, Brazil selected as regional producers for COVID-19 shots

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The Pan American Health Organization picked Argentina and Brazil as regional hubs as part of a big push to get COVID-19 vaccines to all of Latin America. (Bill Oxford/Getty Images)

The Pan American Health Organization picked vaccine manufacturers in Argentina and Brazil to produce shots for the region as part of its push to get COVID-19 vaccines to all of Latin America, which has lagged in battling the pandemic.

In Brazil, PAHO chose the Bio-Manguinhos Institute of Technology on Immunobiologics, part of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, for its vaccine manufacturing experience. The site has been developing a mRNA vaccine against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sinergium Biotech, a private sector biopharmaceutical company, got the nod as the regional hub based in Argentina. Along with its parther mAbxience, Sinergium will develop and manufacture active vaccine ingredients, PAHO said.

Last month, PAHO said it would begin supplying COVID-19 vaccines to Latin America this fall. The push by the group, which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO), comes in response to efforts by the United Nations-backed COVAX initiative that have fallen short, the group previously said.

More than 87.6 million COVID cases have been recorded, and 2.16 million deaths have been associated with the pandemic in the region, according to PAHO, with few countries hitting the 40% vaccine target established by WHO.

“Delays in production have meant that many countries (in the region) are still awaiting the doses they purchased months ago,” Carissa Etienne, PAHO director, said in a statement. “This limited production and unequal distribution of vaccines in the face of staggering demand hinder our COVID response in the Americas.”

RELATED: Pfizer, BioNTech sign on with Eurofarma of Brazil for COVID-19 vaccine production

Meanwhile, in late August, Pfizer and BioNTech unveiled a partnership with Brazil’s Eurofarma Laboratories to produce their Comirnaty vaccine for distribution throughout Latin America. Eurofarma was set to get bulk drug substance from the U.S. and begin production of finished doses in 2022. It’s expected more than 100 million doses will be manufactured annually through the agreement.

Additionally, PAHO previously launched the Regional Platform to Advance the Manufacturing of COVID-19 Vaccines and other Health Technologies in the region. That program will support collaboration between countries and agencies in order to better leverage existing biomanufacturing capacity in Latin America to produce COVID-19 vaccines and other medical technologies.