Brazil's Sao Paulo expects approval this week to trial Chinese coronavirus vaccine

SAO PAULO, June 29 (Reuters) - Brazil's Sao Paulo state expects this week to receive federal regulator approval to trial a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by China's Sinovac , governor Joao Doria said on Monday.

The trial would be carried out by the Instituto Butantan, a research center funded by the state of Sao Paulo. Doria said in a news conference that 9,000 volunteers have already been registered to test the vaccine, known as CoronaVac.

The announcement comes as Brazil's federal government announced over the weekend that it had signed an agreement to produce another potential vaccine, developed by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca with researchers at Oxford University.

With the world’s worst outbreak outside the United States, Brazil has become a key front in the global race for a vaccine, as vaccine clinical trials are likely to yield results faster in places where the virus is widespread.

President Jair Bolsonaro has been strongly criticized by health experts for this handling of the crisis. Bolsonaro has dismissed the disease as a "little flu" and shown indifference to the rising death count.

As of Sunday, Brazil had over 1.3 million coronavirus cases and 57,000 deaths.

(Reporting by Eduardo Simoes; Editing by Andrea Ricci)