Argentina Approves Russian Vaccine With Plane Waiting in Moscow

Argentina approved the emergency use of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine to combat the spread of Covid-19, becoming the first nation outside the former Soviet Union to authorize the shot.

The government decision on Wednesday came as an Aerolineas Argentinas plane awaits a cargo of vaccines to be loaded in Moscow before returning to Buenos Aires.

President Alberto Fernandez said earlier this month he hoped to vaccinate 300,000 Argentines before the end of the year, and 10 million citizens in the first two months of 2021 using the so-called Sputnik V shot. Fernandez, 61, said he would take the vaccine himself, though final results of trials involving adults over 60 years old still haven’t been released.

“It’s very important that Argentina starts to vaccinate as soon as possible,” Carla Vizzotti, the country’s secretary for health access, said in a radio interview Wednesday. The vaccine “is a fundamental tool to minimize the impact.”

With a population of 45 million people, Argentina ranks 11th worldwide in total cases with 1.6 million infections and more than 42,000 have died from the virus. After weeks of cases in decline, Argentina’s Covid curve has begun to rise again amid more international travel and holiday gatherings.

Until Wednesday, only Russia and Belarus had approved use of the Sputnik vaccine. It will be produced by Russia’s partners in India, China, South Korea and other countries, according to an emailed statement from the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which backs the vaccine. Anmat’s decision to approve the vaccine based on Russia’s clinical trials is “a high recognition of Russian regulatory standards,” said Kirill Dmitriev, head of RDIF.

Health Minister Gines Gonzalez Garcia recently criticized Pfizer Inc., which rolled out the first vaccine for use, for seeking what he called “unacceptable conditions” in negotiations. However, Argentina’s pharmaceutical regulator Anmat approved use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Tuesday, even though no formal agreement has been announced.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.