Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has become the latest high-profile Argentine politician to receive Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19.
The former president, who served two terms from 2007 to 2015, was given the shot at a hospital in Avellaneda, on the outskirts of the capital, three days after President Alberto Fernández was given his first dose.
"At the Presidente Perón Hospital in Avellaneda, vaccinating ourselves with Sputnik V. By doing it, I am not only taking care of myself, but also taking care of others. Thanks to the health personnel for the enormous effort they are making during this pandemic," Fernández de Kirchner wrote in a post on Twitter.
The 67-year-old completed her message with photographs of her being given the jab and the certificate showing she had received the first of the two required doses.
Argentina’s president and vice-president are among the first world leaders to be given the Sputnik V vaccine, produced by Russia’s Gamaleya laboratory.
To date, Argentina has received 600,000 doses (300,000 of the first shot, 300,000 of the second) of the coronavirus vaccine. An agreement with the Russian authorities allows for the delivery of another 19.4 million doses. Of those, another 600,000 are due to arrive in Argentina on Tuesday, following the departure of an Aerolíneas Argentinas plane on Sunday.
Outside of Russia, Argentina is the largest country to begin vaccinating its citizens with Sputnik V. Frontline healthcare workers were the first to start receiving the jab.
ANMAT, Argentina's drug administration agency, approved the use of Sputnik V for those aged over 60 on Wednesday, paving the way for a rollout to a larger segment of the population.
The vaccine’s use was initially approved by the Health Ministry on December 23, a day before the first batch arrived in the country from Moscow.
Argentina has also signed a deal to buy doses of the vaccine created by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, though it has not yet received any. It is still negotiating for access to the Pfizer-BioNTech jab and has access to the Covax mechanism run by the World Health Organisation.
One million sign up
Russia registered Sputnik V – named after the Soviet-era satellite – in August, months ahead of Western competitors but before the start of Phase III clinical trials, which left some experts wary. Phase III is the final testing round before a drug is approved.
Its developers claim Sputnik V has been shown to be more than 90 percent effective in early trials, and Russia has already launched a vaccination campaign using the shot. Moscow says the shot has been given to more than 1.5 million people.
There is certainly an appetite for the vaccine in Argentina. In Buenos Aires Province alone more than one million individuals have registered with authorities seeking to receive the jab.
According to the Russian sovereign wealth fund that sponsors the vaccine, Sputnik V has been authorised for use in Argentina Belarus, Serbia, Bolivia, Algeria, the Palestinian territories, Venezuela, Paraguay and Turkmenistan. Its approval has also been requested by the European Medicines Agency, which must provide a response in February.
To date, Argentina has recorded more than 1.8 million confirmed cases and 46,000 deaths from Covid-19 since March. The Health Ministry says 1.6 million individuals have recovered after infection.