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Coronavirus live news: Brazil approves two Covid vaccines for emergency use as US nears 400,000 deaths

India vaccinates nearly 250,000 people; Oxford/AstraZeneca and Sinovac approved in Brazil; US death toll at 397,258

12.08am GMT

Brazil’s health regulator on Sunday approved the urgent use of coronavirus vaccines made by Sinovac and AstraZeneca, enabling Latin America’s largest nation to begin an immunisation program that’s been subject to delay and political disputes, AP reports.

Brazil currently has 6 million doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine ready to distribute in the next few days and is awaiting the arrival of 2 million doses of the vaccine made by AstraZeneca and partner Oxford University.

“This is good news for Brazil, but 6 million doses are still very few. It will not allow the entire population at risk to be fully immunized, nor is it clear how quickly the country will obtain more vaccines,” said Ethel Maciel, an epidemiologist at the Federal University of Espirito Santo.

On Saturday night, the health regulator Anvisa rejected an application for use of a Russian vaccine called Sputnik V, submitted by Brazilian company União Química. Anvisa said it didn’t evaluate the application because it didn’t meet minimum requirements to start an analysis.

Vaccination in Brazil is beginning later than neighbours such as Argentina and Chile despite a robust public health system and decades of experience with immunisation campaigns. The process to present and approve the Covid-19 vaccines was fraught with conflict, as allies of President Jair Bolsonaro sought to cast doubt on the efficacy of the Sinovac shot backed by his political rival, Sao Paulo state’s Gov. João Doria.

“The rivalry between Brasilia and the state governments prevented any cooperative work,” said Maurício Santoro, professor of political science at the University of the State of Rio de Janeiro. “The governor lost the leadership position, but made Bolsonaro act more quickly to guarantee the start of vaccination.”

The vaccination priority will be health professionals on the front line against coronavirus. Vaccination by the federal government will begin on Wednesday, Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said on Sunday.

11.48pm GMT

Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic with me, Helen Sullivan. I’m on Twitter @helenrsullivan and email on: helen.sullivan@theguardian.com.

Brazil’s health regulator, Anvisa, has approved the emergency use of two coronavirus vaccines during a politically-charged televised meeting that Brazilians watched with bated-breath.

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