Argentina took delivery of 218,000 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine against Covid-19 on Sunday, the country's first shipment from the global Covax scheme.
"Today is an important day because the arrival of doses begins through the Covax mechanism, a global initiative that seeks to generate equity in the distribution of vaccine doses. Our main objective is to reduce the occurrence of serious forms [of coronavirus] and mortality," said Health Access Secretary Sandra Tirado in a statement to the press.
This shipment of the drug, created by the British-Swedish-British pharmaceutical firm and researchers from the University of Oxford, is part of nine million doses that Argentina hopes to receive via the Covax scheme, an initiative organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that ensures countries with fewer resources receive Covid-19 vaccines.
The shipment arrived at Ezeiza international airport on Sunday, where it was welcomed by Tirado and a representative from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO-WHO), Enrique Pérez-Gutiérrez, and from Unicef, Luisa Brumana.
Pérez-Gutiérrez, the PAHO official, hailed the arrival of the doses as "an enormous achievement and the product of months of hard work."
"It signifies a very important step that allows us to continue promoting increasingly equitable access to vaccines, both here and around the world, especially for those who are more at risk," he added.
Brumana highlighted that the Covax programme is helping to "shorten the vaccination gaps that exist between countries that were more easily able to acquire vaccines and those who are lagging behind."
Argentina has so far taken delivery of the Sputnik V vaccine, made by the Russian laboratory Gamaleya; the Sinopharm jab, of Chinese origin; and the Covishield shot, produced by India's Serum Institute, which is based on the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.
As of Sunday, just over 3.6 million vaccine doses have been applied in Argentina to date, according to government data.
Argentina has recorded 2.3 million cases of Covid-19 to date and 55,368 fatalities.