Good news and bad news on the vaccine front for Argentina at the start of the week: at 2.30am on Monday an Aerolíneas Argentinas flight headed out to Moscow to bring back from the Gamaleya Institute the following afternoon the first consignment of active ingredients for producing Sputnik V in Argentina. The bad news? Fresh delays in the arrival of AstraZeneca vaccine deliveries.
The Laboratories Richmond lab in Pilar will take charge of filtering and packaging the material arriving from Moscow. There was no immediate word on how many thousands of doses the first consignment will permit.
"This is the 24th flight by the flag carrier in the quest for immunisation against Covid-19 and the first bringing the active ingredient to begin producing the vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Institute in Argentina’s Laboratorios Richmond," ran the official word from the national government regarding flights AR1062 and AR1063 from and to Ezeiza International Airport.
"The pace at which vaccines are arriving is fundamental for the continuation of the vaccination campaign," commented Aerolíneas Argentinas President Pablo Ceriani.
The joint production was announced on June 4 at a video conference by Presidents Alberto Fernández and Vladimir Putin.
"We are very satisfied with what we have achieved with this vaccine because millions of Argentines have seen their lives saved thanks to this scientific development of Russia in which we always trusted," said President Fernández at that time.
The new Laboratorios Richmond plant under construction in Pilar has the capacity to turn out half a million complete doses weekly of Sputnik V (which will be named Sputnik Vida in its local version), the lab’s president Marcelo Figueiras said in an interview with Perfil this weekend.
As for the AstraZeneca vaccines (which were expected for last Monday), their delivery has been rescheduled for weekends for operational reasons, the government said in a communiqué. At the start of the month the Health Ministry had announced the arrival of over 950,000 doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca lab and the University of Oxford.
But 818,150 doses of Sputnik V (the biggest cargo of this vaccine yet) arrived on schedule on June 3, thus taking Argentina close to 18.4 million in total between Sputnik, Sinopharm and AstraZeneca. At the start of the week a total of 17,670,690 vaccines had been distributed and 14,092,493 inoculated with 11,071,365 people receiving their first jab and 3,021,128 a double dose.