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UPDATE 1-Brazil authorizes import of raw material to produce Chinese COVID-19 vaccine

(Adds details on vaccine, background)

BRASILIA, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa said on Wednesday it has authorized the import of raw materials from Chinese company Sinovac for the production of its COVID-19 vaccine.

Sao Paulo’s biomedical institute Butantan plans to produce the vaccine.

In a statement, it said had received authorization to import materials that correspond to 40 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine.

The Sinovac vaccine, which is in Phase III tests in Brazil, has sparked a heated dispute between President Jair Bolsonaro and the governor of São Paulo, João Doria, a political opponent, as the Butantan is linked to the São Paulo state government.

Bolsonaro vetoed an agreement made by his Minister of Health, Eduardo Pazuello, which provided for the purchase of 46 million doses of the vaccine with the aim of integrating them into the National Immunization Program.

The president, a longstanding China critic, said the vaccine is not secure because of “its origin” and has no credibility. (Reporting by Ricardo Brito, writing by Stephen Eisenhammer, editing by Chris Reese and Grant McCool)

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