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ARGENTINA | 12-07-2021 15:02

Argentina signs agreement with Moderna for 20 million Covid vaccines

Health Ministry confirms Argentina has signed an agreement with US laboratory Moderna to purchase 20 million vaccine doses. Shots set to arrive in first quarter of 2022.

The Argentine government announced Sunday that it signed an agreement with the American laboratory Moderna for the supply of 20 million doses of its vaccine against covid-19 in 2022.

The Alberto Fernández administration has "signed an agreement with the company Moderna Inc for the supply of 20 million doses of its Moderna Covid-19 vaccine or equivalent doses of the vaccine for administration as a booster," the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Doses of the Moderna shot, which is based on novel messenger RNA technology, should be available “from the first quarter of 2022,” confirmed the portfolio, adding that the deal “opens the possibility” of receiving a donation of vaccine doses from the United States government in the remainder of this year.

"We are taking a key step in our strategy of having all possible technological platforms, while we continue negotiations with other laboratories," Health Minister Carla Vizzotti said, quoted in the statement.

The US laboratory confirmed a deal had been agreed on Monday.

“We appreciate the support from the government of Argentina with this supply agreement for doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine or our variant booster candidates,” said the firm’s Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Bancel in a statement. “We are committed to making our vaccine available around the world as we seek to address the pandemic with our Covid-19 vaccine.”

Argentina, with a population of some 45 million inhabitants, has so far bought 28 million doses of the Sputnik, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines, of which 24 million have been utilised. Around five million people have received both doses.

More than 98,000 fatalities and 4.6 million infections have been recorded since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.

Last Friday, the government extended existing Covid-19 health measures until August 6, in a bid to curb infections and combat the local spread of the more contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

The Health Ministry said that the Moderna vaccine is "proposed for use as a booster, has a universal and multivalent nature" and "allows it to be modified in relation to the variants that are in circulation." 

This will be Argentina’s first shot developed using messenger RNA technology, which which trains the body to reproduce spike proteins, similar to that found on the coronavirus. When exposed to the real virus later, the body recognises the spike proteins and is able to fight them off.

Viral vector vaccines like AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson use genetically-engineered version of a common-cold causing adenovirus as a "vector" to shuttle genetic instructions into human cells.

– TIMES/AFP/NA

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