BUENOS AIRES–December 11th, 2020–Argentina said it has secured doses to begin administering Russia’s Sputnik vaccine before year-end and President Alberto Fernandez will be the first to take it. The government is planning to give the shot to 10 million vulnerable Argentines before March, Fernandez said.
There’s an option to boost the campaign with an additional 5 million doses in March, he said, adding that local regulators still need to approve the vaccine’s use.
Sputnik has been rolled out in Russia but hasn’t undergone local trials in Argentina. It hasn’t yet been adopted by many countries, unlike shots being produced by AstraZeneca Plc and Pfizer Inc.
“I’ll be the first to take the vaccine, I’ll do it before anyone else so no one is afraid of it,” Fernandez told reporters at the presidential palace.
The government also plans to receive other vaccines, including those distributed as part of the Covax global alliance, in March. Argentina ranks 9th in Covid-19 deaths per capita, the second-worst outcome in Latin America after Peru.
Russia has applied for Sputnik’s approval in 40 countries, according to Kirill Dmitriev, the head of Russian Direct Investment Fund that backs the vaccine, but a list of the 40 countries that have applied does not seem to be available.
Of the Caribbean nations it is most likely that Cuba has applied for the Russian vaccine, but most other Caribbean nations appear to be waiting to see what the Covax global alliance comes up with in coming months. The Pfizer vaccine is somewhat limited in numbers of doses, but the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine seems to be running into problems getting certified.
The Pfizer vaccine is probably less likely to be used in the Caribbean due to the need for storage at ultra-low temperatures using refrigeration equipment not available in the region.
The inoculation with Sputnik-V will cost about US$ 20 for a course of two shots and will be produced in Russia, India, South Korea and several other countries. Fernandez said it’s not yet clear where Argentina’s doses will come from.
Russia has received orders for 1.2 billion doses for 2021. Sputnik’s effectiveness is 91.4%, according to an interim report published late November. Mass vaccination started in Russia this week, with 150,000 people inoculated so far.