The government is seeking a deal with Russia that would enable it to manufacture the Sputnik V vaccine in Argentina, the country's new envoy to Moscow has confirmed.
Argentina's newly designated ambassador to Russia, Eduardo Zuain, said Monday that his diplomatic mission had "the primary objective of guaranteeing the provision of the vaccine" and confirmed that the Alberto Fernández administration would look to secure a deal with Russian officials and the Gamaleya laboratory that produces the vaccine.
The government will push for "a technology transfer process so that, eventually, the vaccine [developed by Russia's Gamaleya laboratory] can be produced in Argentina," Zuain told the Télam state news agency in an exclusive interview marking his appointment.
The newly appointed envoy said his aim is to "develop the agenda of the strategic cooperation agreement" Argentina agreed with Moscow back in 2015.
Zuain, who served as deputy foreign minister between 2011 and 2015, was formally appointed as ambassador on Monday, via publication of a notice in the Official Gazette.
The diplomat described Russia as "a strategic power centre, not only because of the issue of vaccines," and said Argentina had a "comprehensive strategic relationship" with Moscow.
Argentina began its nationwide vaccination campaign, which is voluntary, on December 29, using Sputnik V.
To date, Argentina has received three shipments of the two-shot vaccine, receiving some 820,000 doses of the 19.4 million that Russia has promised to provide by the end of the month.
Doubts are growing as to whether that figure will be met, given that the government had initially expected to receive five million by the end of January.
In addition to its contract with Gamaleya, Argentina has agreements with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford regarding their vaccine, and another deal with the Covax mechanism of the World Health Organisation (WHO), through which as many as nine million doses could arrive.
Officials say the agreements they have in place would be sufficient for 51 million doses and that 370,000 shots have been given to date.
Argentina has recorded more than 1.9 million confirmed cases and more than 48,000 deaths from Covid-19.