(Recasts with comments from senator, adds background)
RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Brazil is to start its coronavirus vaccine programme next Thursday, Senator Nelsinho Trad said, the most concrete forecast yet for Brazil's widely criticized vaccine rollout.
Trad told Reuters he had been informed by mayors who had spoken with Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello.
President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been lambasted for overseeing the world's second deadliest coronavirus outbreak after the United States, is under mounting pressure as a second wave of infections surpasses the first.
The Health Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The government has declined to give an official start date, but has said inoculations could not begin before Jan. 20.
Two vaccines - one made by AstraZeneca and another developed by China's Sinovac Biotech - will form the bedrock of the government's vaccination plan. Both have applied for emergency use in Brazil, with health regulator Anvisa expected to decide on Sunday whether to authorize them.
Vaccination of the country's population will take 16 months at most, Deputy Health Minister Elcio Franco said at a news conference on Wednesday.
Brazil is sending a plane to import 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, made by India's Serum Institute, and has already imported 6 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine. (Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter and Ricardo Brito Editing by John Stonestreet and Nick Macfie)
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