Pfizer To Vaccinate An Entire Brazilian Town

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A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a teenager during Fiocruz's PaqueTa Vacinada mass vaccination event on Paqueta Island, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil. Photographer: Maria Magdalena Arrellaga/Bloomberg via Getty Images

BRASILIA, Brazil, Weds. Oct. 6, 2021 (Reuters) – Pfizer Inc will study the effectiveness of its vaccine against COVID-19 by inoculating the whole population over the age of 12 in a town in southern Brazil, the company said on Wednesday.

The study will be conducted in Toledo, population 143,000, in the west of Parana state, together with Brazil’s National Vaccination Program, local health authorities, a hospital and a federal university.

Pfizer said the purpose was to study transmission of the coronavirus in a “real-life scenario” after the population has been vaccinated.

“The initiative is the first and only of its kind to be undertaken in collaboration with the pharmaceutical company in a developing country,” Pfizer said.

A similar study was conducted by the Butantan Institute, one of Brazil’s leading biomedical research centers, in the smaller town of Serrana, in Sao Paulo state, to test the CoronaVac shot developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd.

In May, Butantan said mass vaccination had reduced COVID-19 death by 95% in the town with a population of 45,644 people. The institute is considering extending the study for a third dose.

“Here we believe in science and we lament the almost 600,000 deaths from COVID-19 in Brazil,” Toledo Mayor Beto Lunitti said at a news conference announcing the Pfizer study.

Regis Goulart, a researcher at Toledo’s Moinhos de Vento Hospital, said its aim was to validate the real-world efficacy and safety of the vaccine seen in clinical trials.

The observational study will also be an opportunity to do long-term monitoring for up to one year of participants and to answer lingering questions such as the duration of vaccine protection against COVID-19 and new variants, Goulart said.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Porter)