Argentina expects 10 million doses of Russian COVID-19 vaccine

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Argentina
FILE PHOTO: Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina is expecting 10 million doses of Russia's main experimental COVID-19 vaccine between December and January, the government said on Monday, as infections continue to climb in the South American country.

The vaccine, known as Sputnik V, is given in two doses and could begin arriving as early as next month, the government said in a news release. The price of the Russian vaccine would be "more or less average" compared with others, President Alberto Fernandez said in the release.

"We had a proposal from the Russian foreign ministry and the Russian (Direct Investment) Fund to see if Argentina was interested in having doses of the vaccine in the month of December and of course we said yes," Fernandez said.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) is backing the development and roll-out of the Sputnik V vaccine. Fernandez said talks with RDIF had been going on "for quite some time." Officials including Argentina's deputy health minister had traveled to Russia to review the vaccine's development, the government said.

"The Sputnik V vaccine for Argentina will be produced by RDIF partners in India, Korea, China and a number of other countries that are setting up a production of the Russian vaccine," RDIF's CEO, Kirill Dmitriev, said in comments shared by a company spokesman.

RDIF said on Friday it had started the process to submit preliminary documents in neighboring Brazil, a necessary step to register the vaccine for use there.

Despite the Argentine government's strict lockdown to curb the spread of the virus from mid-March, coronavirus cases are still on the rise. The South American country exceeded 1 million infections last month and more than 30,000 deaths.

The government has authorized at least 19 clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines, according to data from the health ministry. Pfizer Inc and Johnson & Johnson's Janssen unit are among the companies conducting trials in Argentina.

Argentina also agreed in August to co-produce with Mexico and Britain's second-largest drugmaker, AstraZeneca Plc, a potential vaccine against the virus under development at the University of Oxford.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle, Eliana Raszewski and Cassandra Garrison in Buenos Aires; Editing by Matthew Lewis)