The government announced Friday that Argentina’s drug regulator had approved the use of the Chinese-made Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine for children aged three to 11 – the only age group yet to begin the immunisation process in the country.
"This is a huge step forward in our vaccination campaign and comes in addition to the adolescent vaccination campaign we have planned for October," said Health Minister Carla Vizzotti at a press conference, flanked by Education Minister Jaime Perczyk.
The measure aims to "recover full attendance" at schools nationwide, she added.
Argentina’s drug regulator "ANMAT confirms that we are able to use Sinopharm in children between the ages of 3 and 11,” the minister told the press.
“We will have 12 million [doses] by the end of October, this is what we are saving the vaccines for," she added, explaining that around six million children between the ages of three and 11 will be included in the national vaccination plan.
Adolescents aged between 12 and 17, of which there are around five million in Argentina, are already being vaccinated with the US-made Pfizer shot and Vizzotti said that more shots of those would be arriving in the country later this month, likely between October 24 and 27. Some 3.5 million doses of Moderna, donated by the Joe Biden administration, are also being deployed.
Regarding the Sinopharm shots, the health minister expanded on the approval by explaining that the use of the shot was already approved by ANMAT in adults after Phase I and II clinical trials conducted in China and the United Arab Emirates. She also observed that Chile was inoculating young children with another vaccine that uses “the same platform.”
Sinopharm is administered in two doses with a 28-day interval between doses. Vizzotti said the government was ready to begin, revealing that the government had around 10 million first doses of the Sinopharm shot in reserve and that Argentina is due to receive another two shipments later next week, raising that stockpile to some 12 million doses.
"It is for this that we kept the vaccines – there was a strategic stock as they had the possibility of being applied to children," she explained.
"Argentina will end 2021 with its entire population over three years of age covered and protected,” she declared. “We have the stock to carry out this vaccination and complete the vaccination schedules. We call on society to trust in the vaccine.”
As of Friday morning, some 22.4 million people in Argentina had completed the vaccination schedule (49.7 percent of the total population).
In recent weeks, Argentina has recorded a substantial and steady decrease in the number of daily Covid infections and fatalities. On Friday, authorities reported 1,564 new cases and 48 deaths.
Argentina, with a population of 45 million, has recorded 5.5 million infections and just over 115,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.