Brazil spends extra billion to fight virus

·2-min read

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has signed an executive order to disburse 5.3 billion reais ($A1.21 billion) in new loans to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, as the country hit a record daily tally of 3780 deaths.

Brazil accounts for about a quarter of COVID-19 daily deaths worldwide, more than any other country, and its vaccination efforts have been hampered by a lack of shots.

Bolsonaro has been widely condemned for his handling of the pandemic, from playing down the severity of the disease, to criticising early efforts to secure vaccines and opposing social distancing measures.

The new loans will be used to prop up Brazil's health system, the finance ministry says.

The health ministry will receive the funding and said it will use it at over 2600 public health clinics, as well as to build more hospital beds.

On Tuesday, older Brazilians in Rio de Janeiro state waited in long lines under the strong sun to get vaccinated.

While Brazil hoped to have 46 million doses of the vaccine in March, it ended up receiving only 22 million.

"After all this sacrifice, in this sun, we will see if we can get (the vaccine) but it looks unlikely, it is very disorganised," said Ira Salazar, a retiree at the back of a line with more than 100 people.

Brazil is looking to get more doses and has recently asked the United States for a swap.

The Latin American nation would get access to Pfizer doses faster and would return them with the doses it has ordered and is scheduled to receive later.

Health minister Marcelo Queiroga said on Tuesday after a virtual meeting with top US health official Anthony Fauci that Brazil was in "advanced negotiations" for vaccine co-operation with the United States.

Also on Tuesday, Brazil's health regulator Anvisa said the Covaxin COVID-19 vaccine, developed by India's Bharat Biotech, did not meet its manufacturing standards.

The Brazilian government signed a contract last month to buy 20 million doses of Covaxin. Bharat Biotech had applied for emergency use of the vaccine in Brazil on March 8.