Argentina Approves AstraZeneca Vaccine for Emergency Use

Argentina became the second country in the world and the first in Latin America to approve AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine.

The vaccine was given approval for emergency use over the course of the next year, according to a statement by Argentina’s health regulator ANMAT. The shot presents an adequate “risk-benefit” balance and will be available only with a medical prescription, it added.

Argentina, alongside Mexico, reached an agreement in August to produce the vaccine for Latin America. The countries will make 150 million to 250 million initial doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Biotechnology company mAbxience will produce the active substance in Argentina and Mexican laboratory Liomont will complete the process of formulation before the finished vaccine is shipped across the region.

Argentina has also approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and started vaccinating health workers earlier this week.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, which earlier Wednesday received its first approval by the U.K., can be deployed swiftly because it’s easier to transport and store than the one from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, requiring only refrigerator temperatures rather than deep freezing.

When patients were given two full shots, the vaccine was 62% effective -- less than the Pfizer-BioNTech shot and another from Moderna Inc. A group that accidentally received half of the first dose showed better protection, with efficacy reaching 90%. But participants were 55 years old or less, and because older people who are most at risk of severe Covid-19 often show more sluggish immune responses, the results leave some doubt as to whether the efficacy will stand up to further testing.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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