The Senate on Friday approved a bill declaring the research and development, manufacture and purchase of vaccines against the novel coronavirus to be of public interest by a 56-12 vote. The initiative had already cleared the Chamber of Deputies.
"Via this bill we want to establish conditions for the purchase of vaccines under the norms necessary to accelerate their acquisition in order to solve the problem of immunity in our country," said government ally Senator José Neder (Santiago del Estero Civic Front), the deputy chairman of the Health Committee.
"Pharmaceutical companies, who belong to a highly complex industry, are requesting exceptional requisites for a context of emergency but in no way is this a blank cheque," affirmed Neder since the contracts must pass through SiGen comptrollers and Congress health committees.
Among other points, the law offers more legal flexibility, "a necessary tool due to the emergency we are undergoing," said Neder.
Health Committee chairman Mario Fiad (Radical-Jujuy) warned that some articles "trigger much doubt and uncertainty," requesting their clarification. "We face a bill consecrating exceptions which would surely be inadmissible in any other situation but the pandemic," he admitted.
The government is authorised in the contracts to purchase vaccines against Covid-19 clauses awarding jurisdiction overseas while renouncing "the defence of sovereign immunity" exclusively for these cases.
The bill also authorises compensation clauses in favour of participants in the development of the vaccines save in cases of fraud, malice or neglect.
Argentina is participating in volunteer tests for Phase 3 of the vaccine projects of China’s Sinopharm and the labs BioNTech (Germany) and Pfizer (the United States).
Furthermore, along with Mexico, Argentina has agreed to produce millions of doses of the vaccines developed by Britain’s Oxford University and AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company for distribution in Latin America, if it clears Phase 3.