SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Argentine President Alberto Fernandez received an injection of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine on Thursday, a day after the country’s health regulator approved the Russian-made vaccine for use among those aged 60 and older.
In a tweet, Fernandez, 61, expressed his gratitude to the state-backed Moscow research centre that developed the vaccine.
“I thank the Gamaleya Institute for its scientific work, those who worked to bring their labours to us and all the health personnel of our country for their enormous commitment,” he wrote. “Getting vaccinated helps immunise us against the coronavirus. Let’s do it!”
The approval for the roll-out of Sputnik V by Argentina’s National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology (ANMAT), and Fernandez’s willingness to be given the vaccine, is a boost for Moscow as it seeks to capture a significant share of the COVID-19 vaccine market overseas.
Argentina has recorded more than 1.8 million cases of COVID-19 and over 45,000 deaths from the disease.
It has taken delivery of 600,000 doses of Sputnik V so far, a first batch shortly before Christmas and a second last weekend, which it has said will allow it to provide a second dose to frontline health workers.
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 the coming months.
(Reporting by Jorge Otaola, writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Paul Simao)