Three and a half months after coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) breached Latin America’s borders, a bit of optimism emerged in hard-hit Brazil, where case numbers have surpassed 700 000. Brazilian regulatory authorities on June 2 approved the country’s participation in the University of Oxford’s severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccine trial supported by AstraZeneca. Two days later, the Lemann Foundation, which supports public education in Brazil, announced that it would fund half of the country’s 2000 volunteers participating in the initial round of trials.
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As the first nation outside of the UK to test the Oxford vaccine, Brazil’s involvement is “an important milestone,” the foundation’s executive director, Denis Mizne, said in a statement. Yet even though Latin America’s largest country is playing a vital role in the worldwide quest for a safe, effective vaccine, the pandemic is further stressing a part of the world that’s already vulnerable from rising levels of poverty and inequality, as well as outbreaks in recent years of Zika virus, chikungunya, measles, and several other infectious diseases.
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