Past mini-conference participant Elize Massard da Fonseca and and colleagues published an article examining how political conflicts shaped COVID-19 vaccination in Brazil in Social Science & Medicine, July 2021. Here’s the abstract:
As the world struggles to meet the challenges of vaccination against COVID-19, more attention needs to be paid to issues faced by countries at different income levels. Middle-income countries (MICs) typically lack the resources and regulatory capacities to pursue strategies that wealthier countries do, but they also face different sets of challenges and opportunities than low-income countries (LICs). We focus on three dimensions of vaccination: procurement and production; regulation of marketing registration; and distribution and uptake. For each dimension we show the distinct challenges and opportunities faced by MICs. We illustrate these challenges and opportunities with the case of Brazil, showing how each dimension has been affected by intense political conflicts.
Brazil’s procurement and production strategy, which builds on a long trajectory of local production and technology transfer, has been riddled by conflicts between the national government and state governments. The regulatory approval process, based around one of Latin America’s most highly-regarded regulatory authorities, has also been subject to acute inter- and intra-governmental conflicts. And with regard to distribution and uptake, in the face of high uncertainty, even with a solid health infrastructure, Brazil encounters difficulties in promoting vaccine delivery. The research also reveals the importance of coordination among these dimensions, in Brazil and beyond. Pandemic preparedness and response must include sharing knowledge of how to produce vaccines and recognition of the crucial linkages between procurement, regulation, delivery, and uptake that are necessary for ensuring access to these products.