(Updates with context.)
BRASILIA/RIO - Jan 28 (Reuters) - Sao Paulo’s state Butantan biomedical center in Brazil has capacity to produce 40 million extra doses of the vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech, which could be potentially used to supply other countries in Latin America, it said in a statement on Thursday.
Butantan said on Wednesday it could use its production capacity for exports if Brazil’s federal government didn’t exercise its option to buy 54 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine known as CoronaVac.
The health ministry under Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro - a vaccine skeptic who backed a different producer, AstraZeneca - said in a note it has until May to exercise its option.
Butantan is overseen by Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, who is viewed as a potential rival to Bolsonaro in his 2022 re-election efforts. (Reporting by Aluisio Alves and Sabrina Valle; Editing by Alison Williams, Kirsten Donovan)