The Alberto Fernández administration is drawing up a decree that will modify Argentina’s existing Covid-19 Vaccine Law and smooth the arrival of shots manufactured by US pharmaceutical firms Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
Sources from the national government briefed several local news outlets on Thursday night about the Decree of Necessity and Urgency (DNU), saying that while no date for its publication had been confirmed, it would be published soon.
Its text will modify the Covid-19 vaccination law passed by Congress last year and could be issued over the weekend, perhaps as early as Friday, reported Noticias Argentinas.
According to reports, the president intends to alter contentious parts of the text that have led to stumbling points in negotiations with the US pharmaceutical firms. Previous reports by several outlets say that talks with Pfizer, in particular, stumbled over the word “negligence” and its potential interpretation.
It remains unclear why the government has adopted this path now. The news emerged late Thursday, hours after the ruling coalition’s bloc in the lower house Chamber of Deputies refused to discuss an opposition bill to modify the same law.
Reasons for the move remain unclear.
Initial reports Thursday said that the Casa Rosada is seeking to find a way to vaccinate children under the age of 18 who have health conditions. Pfizer’s shot is the only one of its kind currently approved for those aged 12 to 18 in Argentina, unlike Sputnik V, Sinopharm and AstraZeneca and last week, at-risk youngsters demonstrated outside Congress to demand access to shots.
Other reports suggested that the government’s primary motive is unblock the arrival of vaccines that the United States government has committed to donating to international programmes, such as the World Health Organsiation’s Covax scheme.
Meetings over the decree began last Tuesday at the Casa Rosada and involved Legal & Technical Secretary Vilmar Ibarra, Advisor to the President Cecilia Nicoli and Health Minister Carla Vizzotti. The idea had been under discussion “for weeks,” one source told Perfil.