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Photo: Jorge Bernal/Getty Images

Brazilian health regulators said this week they will not recommend importing Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, citing unknowns and safety concerns about the shot's development and manufacturing.

The big picture: Brazil has seen a recent surge in COVID-related cases and deaths, driven by relaxed mitigation measures and a more contagious local variant that has overwhelmed the country's health system. To date, roughly 6% of Brazil's population has been inoculated against the coronavirus, Bloomberg reports.

  • The rejection also sets back Russia’s effort to build diplomatic relations backed by adoption of its vaccine.

The state of play: The Brazilian health authority, Anvisa, cited problems with the clinical studies and insufficient data as its reasons for rejecting the vaccine. All five of Anvisa's directors voted against importing the Russian shot.

Context: Sputnik V demonstrated 91.6% efficacy against COVID-19, according to a peer-reviewed analysis of a large clinical trial published in the medical journal The Lancet in February.

  • Sputnik V is under review by the European Union, and approved in 61 countries, per Bloomberg.

What they're saying: Anvisa said it found “worrying pieces of information” about the vaccine's manufacturing process. “The cells where adenoviruses are produced for the development of the vaccine allow their replication,” the regulatory agency added, saying that could lead to new infections, or even deaths.

  • The other side: Sputnik's developers said in a statement that they addressed all the technical issues at a meeting with Anvisa “to demonstrate that these allegations have no scientific grounds and cannot be treated seriously in the scientific community and among international regulators.”
  • “We need additional information on what this lack (of data) means, because there’s already more than enough data. If some data is lacking, it will be provided,” the Kremlin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday.
  • A tweet from the official Sputnik Twitter account said Brazil's decision “was of a political nature” and had “nothing to do with access to information or science,” alleging the U.S. had convinced Brazil to deny approval.

Go deeper

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Aug 5, 2021 - Health

Why vaccine passports are still just a dream

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Several practical and technological hurdles will stand in the way of widespread "vaccine passports."

Why it matters: COVID-19 vaccine mandates are quickly gaining steam, reviving interest in an easy, electronic way for people to verify that they're vaccinated. But that technology in some cases is still far from perfected, and some experts question how much it could really accomplish.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Aug 5, 2021 - Health

Nursing homes' vaccine challenge

Resident Douglass Tozzini gets his mask adjusted by caregiver Joseph Salazar at Gordon Manor assisted-care facility in Redwood City, Calif. on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. Photo: Gabrielle Lurie/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

It's becoming more urgent to vaccinate the staff that care for vulnerable nursing home patients. But the industry, which has been plagued with workforce issues, faces a major challenge when it comes to mandating shots, the New York Times reports.

By the numbers: Nursing homes had seen major drops in infections after becoming one of the major hotspots for cases and deaths earlier on in the pandemic. But those numbers have reversed in recent weeks, CDC data shows.

Aug 5, 2021 - Health

Booster shots for the immunocompromised likely coming soon

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Biden administration is actively working toward making a recommendation that certain immunocompromised people receive an additional dose of coronavirus vaccine, two sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Two shots of Pfizer and Moderna's mRNA vaccines don't generate strong levels of protection in some immunocompromised people. But data suggests a third shot could significantly boost their response.