Latin America

From Sputnik V to Sputnik VIDA: Argentina Boosts Inoculation, Lays Ground for Own Vaccine Diplomacy

Argentina will be the first Latin American country to produce Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, Laboratorios Richmond SACIF and the Russian Direct Investment Fund announced earlier this week. This breakthrough will boost the country’s inoculation campaign and play a role in the October midterms, an Argentine author says.

The Argentine pharma company Laboratorios Richmond SACIF has already manufactured the first batch of 21,176 COVID vaccine doses and sent them to Moscow for quality control checks at the Gamaleya Research Institute.

The locally made vaccine will be called “Sputnik VIDA”. Laboratorios Richmond’s existing plants are capable of producing “up to five million doses, both of the first and second” shot, each month, according to the company’s chief Marcelo Figueiras. It is expected that by June 2021, the pharma firm will make one million doses.

Fernandez’s Inoculation Campaign Goes on at Good Pace

In addition to being the first Latin American country to kick off full-scale production of the Russian jab, Argentina was also the first on the continent to approve Sputnik V on 23 December 2020, despite a large-scale Western media campaign smearing the drug. Earlier, on 2 November 2020, President Alberto Fernandez revealed that the country had struck a deal with Russia to deliver 25 million doses of the anti-COVID vaccine.

Fernandez’s decision to jump at the opportunity to secure millions of life-saving jabs prompted his political opponents to file a judicial complaint against him, recollects Argentine author and political analyst Gonzalo Fiore Viani.

The opposition accused Fernandez of “poisoning the people”, but the hysteria ended once The Lancet, a weekly peer-reviewed international medical journal, lauded the Russian vaccine as safe and highly efficient in February 2021, according to the author.

“The Argentine public’s view towards Sputnik V in particular, changed during the vaccination campaign”, says Viani. “Like I said before, at first, there were doubts fuelled by the opposition and the media outlets, but after The Lancet’s article came out, everything changed. Today, it is considered as the best vaccine here, and a lot of people say they want to get that one instead of the others”.

The author notes that right now the government’s inoculation campaign is going forward at a very good pace, so the public opinion is very favourable to the Fernandez Cabinet in that aspect. Roughly 5.6 million Argentines have received at least one Sputnik V shot to date, while 800,000 have received two shots.

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