According to an official statement, the Brazilian health regulator suspended the use of over 12 million doses of Chinese-made vaccines on September 4 due to their production in an unauthorized plant.
The ban was imposed as a “precautionary measure” to avoid “possible imminent risk,” according to authorities.
The country’s federal health regulator, Anvisa, said on Saturday.
The Butantan Institute, a local biomedical center founded by the state government in Sao Paulo, had sent an alert to Anvisa the day before. Under a collaboration with China’s Sinovac, the institution was to fill and finalize 25 batches of 12.1 million doses upon their arrival in Brazil.
Butantan informed the regulator that another 17 batches totaling 9 million doses produced in the same plant were on their way to Brazil.
The regulator has now imposed a 90-day ban and is conducting an investigation into the plant and manufacturing process.
Brazil began its vaccine rollout earlier this year, with Sinovac providing the vast majority of administered vaccines. More images from other manufacturers have since been made available online.
On August 25, Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga announced that people aged 70 or older or with a weakened immune system will be eligible for a third dose beginning September 15—preferably with the Pfizer vaccine.
Diana dos Santos, 71, received two Sinovac vaccine shots but now refuses to leave the house until she receives her booster.
“I can’t go out like I used to, and I’m still scared of everything,” Santos told The Associated Press. “I will feel more secure [with a booster].”
Chinese officials have maintained that the vaccine protects against the Delta variant, preventing hospitalizations and severe cases in particular.
Brazil has reported over 580,000 deaths from the virus, but both the death rate and the number of active cases have decreased in the last two months.