Brasilia, Jan 18 (IANS) Brazil will begin a mass vaccination drive against the novel coronavirus starting from Wednesday onwards, according to Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello.
The Brazilian government will begin the distribution of the vaccines throughout the country starting early Monday morning, Xinhua news agency quoted Pazuello as saying at a press conference on Sunday.
The decision came after Brazil's Health Regulatory Agency unanimously on Sunday approved the emergency use of the CoronaVac vaccine, from the Chinese laboratory Sinovac, as well as the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford vaccine.
The vaccines will be delivered by the Brazilian Air Force "to strategic points" in each state, after which inoculation will begin throughout the country on Wednesday.
The first vaccine to be distributed in Brazil was CoronaVac, developed by Sinovac in conjunction with the Butantan Institute of Sao Paulo, and the first doses were administered to health professionals in Sao Paulo shortly after the approval.
The Brazilian government has procured 6 million doses of the CoronaVac vaccine to be distributed throughout the country.
Despite the vaccine program, the Minister urged the population "not to relax preventive measures".
Brazil, one of the worst-hit countries in the world, has so far registered 8,488,099 Covid-19 cases and 209,847 deaths.
The country's caseload is the third highest in the world after the US and India, while its death toll is the second largest after the US.