BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina, one of the first countries to widely use Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, has ratcheted up pressure on Moscow over delays in the arrival of second doses that are holding back its COVID-19 inoculation campaign. The South American country’s government sent a letter to Russian state entity RDIF dated July 7, […]
Argentina raises heat on Russia over Sputnik V vaccine delays
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina, one of the first countries to widely use Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, has ratcheted up pressure on Moscow over delays in the arrival of second doses that are holding back its COVID-19 inoculation campaign.
The South American country’s government sent a letter to Russian state entity RDIF dated July 7, where it said Argentina urgently needed component two doses, which are different from the first dose, and warned the supply agreement was at risk.
“At this point the entire contract is at risk of being publicly canceled,” the government wrote in the letter, which was reported by local newspaper La Nacion on Thursday and confirmed publicly as genuine by two senior officials.
“We understand the shortage and the production difficulties of a few months ago. But now, seven months later, we are still far behind, as we are starting to receive doses from other providers on a regular basis, with schedules that are met.”
Argentina, a country of some 45 million people, has administered 22.9 million vaccine shots, though only 5.8 million people have been fully inoculated with two doses, one of the biggest lags between first and second jabs in the region.
The country was an early and important advocate of Sputnik V’s use worldwide, though has recently looked to amend local legislation to allow more vaccines to arrive from the United States and has tied up a major deal with Moderna.
Health Minister Carla Vizzotti acknowledged the letter to radio station El Destape on Thursday and said it was common practice to push suppliers to help ensure contracts were met. The “pressure” had helped speed things up, she added.
The minister said some 500 liters of the second component would arrive in the coming weeks, enabling domestic production of a further 880,000 second doses by local firm Laboratorios Richmond. More would arrive after that.
“As a result of this intense negotiation, the panorama regarding component two, which is our big focus, is becoming clearer”, Vizzotti said.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is responsible for marketing Sputnik V overseas, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cecilia Nicolini, a presidential adviser, in an interview with Radio con Vos also confirmed the letter and said it was one of many sent between Argentina and Russia as part of negotiations over the purchase and supply of Sputnik V.
(Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Adam Jourdan in Buenos Aires, Anton Zverev in Moscow; Editing by Nick Zieminski)