New Delhi: Brazil is sending an aircraft to India after Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to expedite vaccine shipment to the South American country.

The move follows a request from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in a letter last week to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the vaccines without jeopardising the Indian vaccination programme.

The Serum Institute of India Pvt., the world’s largest producer of vaccines by volume, will supply 2 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford to Brazil, according to the nation’s Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello.

According to IE, Brazil signed a deal with Serum Institute of India in Pune as the country reportedly stated that the Chinese Covid-19 vaccines are less efficacious than it had earlier claimed.

Brazil has also sought vaccines from Bharat Biotech. However, the first consignment will be from Serum.

Serum’s Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla in an interview this month said that Serum expects to start supplying the World Health Organization’s Covax initiative — that aims to pool vaccines for lower income countries — by the end of January.

South Africa has also said Serum has agreed to supply it with the vaccine this month. The Pune-based company hasn’t publicly confirmed the deal with the African nation.

The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine will be distributed to the Brazilian states within five days after the approval of the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa). "Immunization all over the country will be carried out simultaneously and free of charge," Brazil's health ministry said.

Brazil with more than 8 million cases has the third-highest infections in the world. More than 200,000 people have been killed by the virus. The rush to buy vaccine from India comes at a time President Jair Bolsonaro has refused to be vaccinated, and shown that he’s in no hurry to negotiate with drug companies.

(With inputs from agencies)