Brazil approves Pfizer's COVID-19 shot, but has none to use

FILE PHOTO: Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19
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SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil has fully approved the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE, its health regulator said on Tuesday, though a dispute over a supply deal means it has none to start an immunization program with.

It is the first coronavirus shot to receive full approval in Brazil, regulator Anvisa said. Vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd, have only been approved for emergency use.

The approval is good news for a country whose immunization campaign has been plagued by delays and political squabbling. However, it is unclear whether this will pave the way for a supply deal of a highly effective shot that is being rolled out globally.

"We hope to be able to move forward in our negotiations with the Brazilian government to support the immunization of the country's population," Pfizer's Brazil boss Marta Diez said in a statement, without giving further details.

Brazil's Health Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

President Jair Bolsonaro has criticized the terms of a deal proposed by Pfizer, saying it is overly onerous as it exempts the U.S. firm from potential liability for unforeseen problems. Pfizer has said other countries, including Brazil's neighbors in Latin America, have agreed to those terms.

(Reporting by Eduardo Simoes. Writing by Gabriel Stargardter. Editing by Mark Potter and John Stonestreet)