Sign indicates Covid-19 vaccination site in Argentina | Photo: Demian Alday Estévez / Agência EFE / Gazeta do Povo
Alberto Fernández’s bet on the Russian vaccine Sputnik V turns out to be a major headache for the Argentine government. Russia is not on schedule for delivery of additional doses, which have a different component from the first dose, and the inability to complete the vaccination schedule for thousands of Argentines puts the country in a “critical” situation, according to a letter written by Cecilia Nicolini, one of the president’s main advisers and who, with Minister Carla Vizzotti, negotiated the purchase of Russian vaccines against Covid-19.
The letter, revealed this Thursday (22) by Argentinian journalist Carlos Pagni, was sent on July 7 by email to Anatoly Braverman, one of the Russian authorities responsible for broadcasting Sputnik V. In the message, Nicolini puts pressure on the Russian interlocutor for the promised doses to be delivered within the set deadlines, affirming that the situation of the sending of vaccines in the country had worsened since the last meeting between them.
According to the Clarín newspaper, Argentina applied 9.3 million first doses of Sputnik V, but only 2.4 million additional doses of this vaccine were inoculated. In other words, more than six million Argentines expect to receive the second dose of Sputnik V. The recommended dose interval was initially 21 days. Subsequently, the Gamaleya Institute said the period could be extended up to three months. In its vaccination campaign, the Argentine government has prioritized the application of Sputnik V to people over the age of 70.
“We urgently need something from component 2 (second dose). At this point the whole contract is at risk of being publicly canceled,” Nicolini wrote. “We understand the shortages and production difficulties of a few months ago. But now, seven months later, we are still very late as we are starting to receive regular doses from other providers, with schedules being respected.” , did he declare. added.
The Casa Rosada employee also cited a recent presidential decree, issued by Fernández, which allows Argentina to sign contracts with American companies and receive donations from the United States. For Pagni, the summons to the United States to put pressure on the Russians shows that the Argentine government’s vaccination strategy is guided by geopolitical criteria.
Further, Nicolini writes: “We have always responded by doing everything possible to make Sputnik V the most successful, but you leave us very few options to continue fighting for you and this project! And, as I also mentioned once, we are suffering legal harassment as public officials because of these delays, putting our government at risk. “
Argentina has been authorized by the Gamaleya Institute to produce Sputnik V in the country, at a factory in the Richmond laboratory. The first batch produced, according to Nicoloni, was sent to Russian quality control on June 16, and in the letter, she requested that the batch be released by July 9, Argentina’s Independence Day. However, the 140,000 doses (of component 1) did not receive approval from the Gamaleya Institute until July 15.
After the revelation of the letter, Casa Rosada informed that next week will arrive in the country the ingredients necessary for the manufacture of the second dose of Sputnik V. According to the Minister of Health, the material will be sufficient to manufacture 880,000 doses, in addition to about a million top-up doses that must be approved by the second week of August.
Argentina has vaccinated 50% of its population with the first dose, but only 12% have the full immunization schedule. Covid-19 cases and deaths from the disease have been on the decline since May, when the country’s record for infections was set.