Argentina’s government has so far paid around US$700 million to eight suppliers of Covid-19 vaccines, according to leaked official documents – under half of the total it has pledged to spend.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, President Alberto Fernández's government has agreed to purchase around 130 million doses of coronavirus vaccines. To date, it has taken delivery of more than 65 million doses from various laboratories, while spending close to US$700 million – 46 percent of the cumulative cost of the shots.
Documents containing details of the payment, to which the Noticias Argentinas had access this week, permits some of the details of the purchase contracts to be inferred, despite the most absolute secrecy due to the confidentiality agreements signed with the labs.
For example, given the level of mistrust present – even in the midst of a global pandemic – payment orders were released almost simultaneously to the doses being shipped, although there were also some advance payments to reserve vital life-saving shots.
Regarding this latter point, one of the most queried advance payments was one worth US$17,943,873,60 (1,525,229,256 in pesos,) made to the Anglo-Swedish lab AstraZeneca on November 17, 2020. This advance payment, along with the delays in the delivery of the doses produced in Argentina and packaged in Mexico, has seen President Alberto Fernández and the pharmaceutical businessman Hugo Sigman taken to court.
According to the information to which NA had access, as of September 9, the government had released up to 81 payment orders totalling US$694,139,084.25 or 63,584,363,392,63 in local pesos.That sum was broken down into payment to seven labs: AstraZeneca, Human Vaccine (Sputnik V), Sinopharm, Richmond, Moderna, Cansino Biologics and Pfizer.
In the case of AstraZeneca, the payments were registered both via the direct agreement with the Anglo-Swedish firm and via the Covax mechanism, while to acquire the Sputnik V vaccines, payments were made both to Human Vaccine (the Russian company which produces it) and to Laboratorios Richmond SA, the local firm that has been entrusted with their manufacture in Argentina.
US$1.49 billion for 130 million doses
In total, Argentina’s government has agreed to buy 130,404,710 doses of vaccines for a total value of US$1,493,022,520. As of September 9, it had received around 55 million purchased vaccines (not including the 3.5 million doses of Moderna donated by the United States nor the 400,000 given free by Spain).
With these numbers, it can be observed that the vaccine cargoes were released in the same measure as the payments entered their head offices, as accredited by the outflow of money from the government’s Banco Nación account.
Until now, the different companies have received the following sums: AstraZeneca, via COVAX scheme, US$7.776 million (722,816,160 pesos); AstraZeneca, as directly contracted US$89,719,368 (4.654,640,811.84 pesos); Cansino, US$4.42 million (527,367,200 in pesos); Moderna, US$129,891,518.32 (12,404,640,000 pesos); Pfizer, US$41,514,110.47 (4,006,111,660.20 pesos); Laboratorios Richmond, SA US$19,856,021.25 (2,032,970,407.81 pesos); Sinopharm, US$280,891,986.71 (28,020,705,680 pesos) and Human Vaccine (Sputnik V), US$120,070,079.50 (11,215,111,472.78 pesos).
Regarding the unit prices of the vaccines, the most expensive is the Moderna at US$21.50 per dose, with AstraZeneca the cheapest at US$4 (produced at cost). The other labs fixed the following unit values: Sputnik V, US$9.95; the Serum Institute of India (Covishield) US$4.10; Cansino US$17 and Pfizer US$12.
The case of Sinopharm is different since they signed three complementary agreements: the first for four million vaccines at US$20 each; the second for two million at US$15 each and the third for 24 million doses with a two-tier price with the first million doses costing US$15 each and a unit price of US$9 for the remaining 23 million.