The agreement signed in February commits the ministry to pay $ 320 million – at a cost of $ 15 per dose of vaccine – to Precisa Medicamentos, the representative of Bharat Biotech in Brazil, according to a document sent to the Associated Press by the press of the attorney general. Office.
The price per dose, which was higher than for other Covid-19 vaccines, caught the attention of prosecutors as well as ministry officials apparently unaware of a history of alleged irregularities committed by Precisa associates in previous contracts with the federal government.
Precisa said in a statement that the vaccine price agreed with the Brazilian health ministry was the same as the price negotiated with 13 other countries and that the agreement “followed all formal channels and was carried out transparently” .
Federal prosecutor Luciana Loureiro Oliveira said in a document signed on June 16 that three years ago Precisa’s associates, through another company, entered into a contract with the Ministry of Health for the sale of drugs that had never been delivered.
Oliveira wrote that the ministry signed a purchase contract for the Bharat Biotech vaccine even though it had not been approved by the Brazilian health agency, Anvisa, and other already approved vaccines were on the market. at lower prices.
âThe history of irregularities involving Precisa’s partners and the high price paid for the contracted doses require a thorough civil and criminal investigation,â Oliveira wrote.
Francisco Maximiano, a shareholder in Precisa, was scheduled to appear Tuesday before a Senate committee investigating federal government omissions in handling the pandemic, but presented a petition to postpone his testimony saying he was in quarantine after arriving from India, according to a statement from its lawyers.
Anvisa approved the import of the Covaxin vaccine with restrictions on June 4, allowing entry of just 4 million doses. In March, the agency rejected a request to import the vaccine, citing concerns over a lack of documentation and information on its safety.