Bharat Biotech has terminated “with immediate effect” a contract to introduce Covaxin in Brazil, the company said on Friday.
The development comes after Brazil opted to suspend its roughly $320-million contract for 20 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine while it probed allegations over irregularities in the deal — an issue that has landed the Bolsonaro government in controversy.
It is unclear at this stage whether the Hyderabad-based vaccine maker’s decision to terminate its November 24 contract with Precisa Medicamentos and Envixia Pharmaceuticals is a result of the controversy.
Bharat Biotech did not clarify in its statement why it was terminating its contract.
Precisa Medicamentos had been enlisted as Bharat Biotech’s partner in the regulatory approvals for Covaxin in Brazil, including the conduct of clinical trials for Covaxin there.
“The company has terminated the said MoU with immediate effect,” Bharat Biotech stated Friday. “Notwithstanding such termination, Bharat Biotech will continue to work diligently with ANVISA, the Brazilian drug regulatory body to complete the regulatory approval process for Covaxin,” it said.
Queries to Bharat Biotech about why it had terminated its contract with Precisa and Envixia remained unanswered by press time on Friday. The company also did not respond to queries on whether it would be entering into a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) to supply the vaccine to Brazil and whether it planned to reduce the price per dose of Covaxin to Brazil.
Bharat Biotech’s contract with the Brazil government to procure Covaxin has been a subject of controversy over irregularities that include allegations of an increase in the vaccine’s price. The issue, which has also brought Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro under fire, had prompted the country’s Parliamentary Inquiry Committee to open an probe into the deal.