CGU discards Covaxin’s overpricing, but sees possible tampering in documents presented by Necessidade – Prime Time Zone

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There was a collage of a power of attorney confirming the company’s real powers as a representative of Bharat Biotech; investigations into the process of contracting the immunizing agent will continue in progress

LECO VIANA/THENEWS2/ESTADÃO CONTEÚDO – 06/29/2021 The chief minister of the Federal Comptroller General, Wagner Rosário, presented the result of the audit on the purchase of Covaxin by the Ministry of Health

A Federal Comptroller General (CGU) presented on Thursday, 29, the result of the audit in the process of contracting and importing the Covaxin, Indian vaccine against Covid-19. The contract between the Need Medicines, representative of Bharat Biotech in Brazil, and the Ministry of Health is the target of investigation by the CPI to Covid-19. At a press conference, the Chief Minister of the Comptroller General of the Union, Wagner Rosary, stated that the price of US$ 15.00 per dose of the immunizing agent is “adherent to the prices practiced by the company in its negotiations on a world level”. “The first and only existing proposal of the contract is for US$15, there is no surcharge of 1,000%, there is no company proposal of US$10. What we had related to US$10 was a meeting that took place on November 20, 2020 that the representative of Necessidade and Bharat comments that they have a vaccine production target of around US$ 10”, explained Rosário.

According to him, the investigation was carried out after the CGU had access to the recording of the meeting. “We had access to the recording and meeting and there is no price proposal at any time, only an offer of immunization that had no closed price and they expected it would be at US$ 10. Later, at a meeting in 2021, the company informs that the closed prices were of US$ 15”, he completed. About the quantity negotiated, the CGU states that there is “an incompleteness of technical justifications” to justify the quantity of 20 million doses. The initial offer made by Necessidade was for 12 million units, but the government increased the order. “This is in accordance with the order of the Department of Surveillance and Health, which says that this acquisition was to overcome the uncertainties of complying with the delivery schedules of other vaccines”, justified Rosário. In addition, the CGU claimed not to see irregularities in the proceedings. The report points out that the speed was “within normal”, “no acceleration of steps” or “non-compliance with legal procedures”.

However, the chief minister of the Comptroller General of the Union said that the investigation will continue to investigate a possible tampering with a document that attested that Need was the representative of Bharat Biotech in the process. A document sent on October 5, 2020 says that Need was authorized to “issue documents and initiate discussions” with public and private entities. After reading the power of attorney, the Ministry of Health’s legal department pointed out that it was not clear whether the company would be authorized to sign a contract. Therefore, the Ministry requested a more specific power of attorney on the role of Preta in the negotiation. After the request, a document was delivered to the ministry clarifying that Need was “authorized to participate in all official procurement processes of the Ministry of Health of Covaxin, produced by Bharat Biotech, negotiating prices and payment terms, as well as delivery dates , and all the details pertaining to the operation”. During the analysis, the CGU determined that the power of attorney presented was tampered with.

“Virtually all documents submitted by Bharat Biotech were in English. This document had its header, footer, signature and greetings from Bharat’s right in English, but the text was in Portuguese”, pointed out the minister. The CGU then carried out a work to remove the lighting from these documents and found that there were marks from the digitization in the header, signature and footer. “This leads us to believe that the text in Portuguese had been ‘pasted’ into this document and presented as a form of proof of the powers of Preta in the process.” When questioned by the CGU, Need said that it did not have the original document. Bharat Biotech, in turn, stated that it did not issue or authorize the issuance of the power of attorney presented. For this reason, the CGU will continue investigating the case.

Position of Minister Queiroga

Also present at the press conference, the minister of Health, Marcelo Queiroga, stated that the contract with Necessidade was suspended and that the server who was in charge of the negotiations was exonerated from the position. “The position of the Ministry of Health regarding the facts found by the CGU will be to cancel the contract, however, in light of the bidding law itself, we have to notify the contracted company for it to present a defense in the records, but the object was the contracting vaccines he was lost”, he said. “First because these vaccines were not delivered within the deadline established in the contract. Second, because there was not even an authorization and registration from Anvisa for emergency use or definitive registration of this vaccine. Even though Anvisa has recently authorized the importation, the number of doses that we could import was a very small number that would in no way alter the course of our national immunization program”, concluded Queiroga. The minister also recalled that Bharat Biotech signed a contract with Necessidade.