New Delhi: After falling behind its neighbours in the global race for immunisation against the coronavirus pandemic, Brazil has made a diplomatic push for Indian-made shipment of the British drugmaker AstraZeneca’s vaccine against coronavirus. The largest Latin American nation has also struck a preliminary deal with Bharat Biotech despite a lack of public results from late-stage trials. Also Read - Bolsonaro Likens COVID-19 Vaccine to 'Sanjeevani Booti', Thanks PM Modi After Consignment of Covishield Arrives in Brazil

Long heralded for its domestic vaccine development programs, Brazil appears to be at least three or four weeks away from launching any formal immunization campaign against COVID-19. In contrast, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica and other countries in the region have already begun giving shots to their populations. Also Read - Many Healthworkers in Delhi & Bihar Unwilling to Take Bharat Biotech's Covaxin Due to Lack of Efficacy Data

Meanwhile, the country’s coronavirus infections in the country reached a new high in December peaking with more than 7.7 million cases and a death toll reaching 200,000, second only to the United States. Also Read - Coronavirus Vaccine Side-Effects: Bharat Biotech Warns People Against Taking Covaxin 'IF'

The lightning rod in Brazil’s vaccine debate is President Jair Bolsonaro, who has cast scepticism on all of the vaccines being developed even as his government negotiates to obtain them. He has said he doesn’t plan to get a shot himself and joked at one point that side effects might turn people into crocodiles or bearded ladies.

However, top officials at the Serum Institute of India, the Oxford vaccine developer in India, said that the government will restrict the export of COVID-19 vaccines.