BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s government said on Wednesday it has approved Russia’s coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, for use in people over 60 after earlier green-lighting it for younger age groups, a boost for Moscow as it looks to push the inoculation overseas.
The approval opens the door for Argentine President Alberto Fernandez, 61, to receive the vaccine, a government source said. “The way is paved for the president to be vaccinated. At any moment he will do so,” the person added.
The National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology, or ANMAT, Argentina’s regulatory body, said in a statement that the vaccine “is within an acceptable margin of safety and efficacy for the age group over 60 years.”
It added that new documents and data had been received for analysis to allow the expanded approval, including a clinical report on the vaccine among the 60-plus age group. It said this showed an efficacy of around 91.8% in people over 60.
“The safety variable showed a profile that does not differ from that observed in the rest of the population,” it said.
Argentina has recorded some 45,832 COVID-19 deaths so far and over 1.8 million cases.
The second batch of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine arrived in Argentina on Saturday, allowing the country to apply the second part of the two-dose program currently aimed at inoculating frontline health workers.
Some 300,000 doses of the vaccine arrived from Moscow on a special flight of flag carrier Aerolineas Argentinas. They will be used to complete the Sputnik treatment program that began in late December. More doses are expected to arrive in Argentina later this month and in February.
Argentina has also approved for emergency use the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca Plc and Oxford University and has a contract to buy 22.4 million doses of that vaccine, which is expected to come online in coming months.
Neighboring Paraguay last week became the eighth country outside Russia to approve the Sputnik V vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute. Other countries to approve emergency use of the vaccine include Bolivia, Venezuela, Algeria and Serbia.
(Reporting by Walter Bianchi in Buenos Aires, Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Matthew Lewis)