SAO PAULO — Brazil’s government is about to start delivering COVID-19 vaccines to athletes, coaches, referees and accredited media headed for the Olympics and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga told a news conference Tuesday that Brazil will use 4,050 doses of the Pfizer shot and another 8,000 from Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac.
“We will vaccinate our Olympic athletes and coaches to ensure they can perform very well in their capacities and bring many medals,” Queiroga said.
He estimates 1,814 people will be vaccinated to go to Japan, with any remaining doses to be given to the public health care system.
The athlete vaccination program will begin Wednesday and will be conducted in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza. It follows similar measures being undertaken by countries including the United States, Britain and Australia.
The Olympic Games, which have already been delayed 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic, are scheduled to open July 23.
Brazil has attributed more than 420,000 deaths to COVID-19, a toll second only to the United States. A more contagious variant of the disease caused the country’s health care system to near collapse in March and April, but the number of hospitalizations and deaths have decreased in May.
Brazil’s vaccination rollout has been slow, and has been targeted at people aged 60 and over. President Jair Bolsonaro has refused to take any vaccines and is under investigation in a Senate inquiry for his administration’s handling of the pandemic.