Laboratorios Richmond confirmed late Friday that it has completed the first locally made batch of Sputnik V vaccine doses.
The production of the shots, which have been branded ‘Sputnik VIDA’, was confirmed in a series of tweets from the company.
"We finished the production of the first 448,625 doses of the #SputnikV vaccine. They were sent to the logistics operator, awaiting final release by ANMAT [Argentina’s drug regulator] and the Gamaleya Institute”
Richmond paid tribute to "the hard work of our professionals” that had helped the firm “achieve this first objective,” and vowed to continue with our commitment to have local vaccine production."
"It is another milestone in our dream of helping [everyone] to live longer and better," said the firm.
The president of the pharmaceutical company, Marcelo Figueiras, announced on June 8 that the firm’s "biotechnology model plant will allow the development of 500 million doses" of the drug against the coronavirus when it is fully operational. Initial production would start slow, before being ramped up, he added.
"As we know, the countries that produce, vaccinate and those that do not produce wait," he told the lower house Chamber of Deputies last month, taking questions.
The businessman says that production is initially scheduled to produce 500,000 doses per week.
"We can get to manufacture five million doses per month once we reach the rate, taking into account that they complete the promised shipments," Figueiras completed when declaring in the Chamber of Deputies.
Argentina was the first Latin American country to approve the Sputnik vaccine back in December 2020. Since then, it has been approved in more than 65 countries, though not the United States or any nation in the European Union.
Russian leader Vladmir Putin and President Alberto Fernández confirmed early June that mass production of the Russian-made Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine would begin imminently in Argentina, with the jab’s active ingredient sent to Buenos Aires for manufacturing to begin.
Argentina bet big on Sputnik last year as talks with other labs hit snags and production of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Latin America faced major delays. The shot faced public scepticism until a peer-reviewed study by The Lancet medical journal said the vaccine protects against the deadly virus about as well as US and European shots, and far more effectively than Chinese rivals.
Before Argentina’s national pharmaceutical regulator ANMAT had even approved the Russian vaccine in December, Fernández had already sent a plane from state-run Aerolíneas Argentinas to Moscow to pick up the first batch. In total, the airline has sent more than 15 passenger planes since December to Russia on 40-hour journeys to pick up vaccines.
Fernández, who received both Sputniks jabs himself, set expectations high last December, promising to vaccinate 10 million Argentines with Sputnik before the end of February, a threshold vaccinations only crossed last month.
Sputnik V is now approved by health authorities in more than 65 nations worldwide and its efficacy is more than 90 percent, according to studies.
20 million shots
President Fernández was on hand to witness the arrival of a new shipment of more than 900,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine on Monday evening at Ezeiza International Airport.
The delivery means that Argentina has now received more than 20 million doses of coronavirus shots, with jabs supplied by a number of different laboratories.
Fernández, who was joined by Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero and Health Minister Carla Vizzotti, hailed the news by declaring that “vaccination is the gateway to life.”
“In this way we will overcome the pandemic and grow [the economy] again, creating jobs throughout the country,” he said.
On Monday, an additional 1.11 million shots are expected to arrive in Argentina, closely followed by more than two million doses of the Chinese-produced Sinopharm jab on either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Towards the end of the week, another Sputnik delivery is also expected, though it will be mostly made up of second doses.