The delay of a batch of Indian vaccines against Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus to Brazil could have consequences for the country’s leadership.
Officials in Brazil were trying to reach their Indian counterparts to resolve the issue, Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paolo reported on Friday.
Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo was trying to secure the release of the vaccines in conversation with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
An aircraft had been due to depart from Recife, in north-eastern Brazil, on Friday to collect 2 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine from India.
The plane is now being used to bring oxygen to the Amazonian city of Manaus, where the health system has collapsed.
President Jair Bolsonaro told TV Bandeirantes that the Indian operation had been delayed and that there had also been political pressure.
India says it produces about 60 per cent of the world’s vaccines. Many are going to countries that did not secure large numbers of doses beforehand, such as Germany and other wealthy nations.
India also began its own domestic vaccination campaign on Saturday, the world’s largest, according to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with some 300 million people due to be inoculated by July.
For Bolsonaro, the delay could trigger his political downfall.
Bolsonaro downplayed the virus at the outset of the pandemic, and has also called the vaccine into question.
But he also hopes to be the first person photographed receiving the vaccine in his country, ahead of Sao Paulo state governor Joao Doria.
Brazil’s government agreed to receive doses of the vaccine made by AstraZeneca, but Sao Paulo reached a deal with Chinese vaccine manufacturer Sinovac.
Anvisa, Brazil’s national authority for health monitoring, is expected to decide on the emergency approval of the two vaccines on Sunday.