Healthcare workers at the front line of the coronavirus pandemic in Brazil have volunteered to test some of the most promising experimental vaccines.
Brazil is the country with the second-highest number of infections and deaths in the pandemic, after the United States.
Medical staff working in facilities treating patients infected by the virus are playing the starring role in testing because they are the most likely to come into contact with it, enabling researchers to run a controlled experiment to see how well it works.
“I want to contribute, and this is my contribution — through science,” said paediatrician Monica Levi, one of 5,000 volunteers in Brazil helping test one of the most promising vaccines so far, developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
Levi, 53, works at the Specialized Clinic for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases and Immunizations (Cedipi) in Sao Paulo, the epicentre of the outbreak in Brazil, where more than 2.5 million people have been infected so far, with more than 90,000 deaths.
Last week, Brazil also became the first country carrying out Phase 3 trials of Chinese vaccine CoronaVac, developed by pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech.
Phase 3 clinical trials involve large-scale testing on humans, the last step before vaccines seek regulatory approval. Brazil has a deal to make up to 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine if it proves effective.