Health Minister Ginés González García said Wednesday that Argentina has signed contracts for the provision of some 62 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
"The number we have today is quite clear: we have 30 million of the Russian vaccine [Sputnik V], 22.4 million of AstraZeneca, plus a negotiation for another 1.2 million of that vaccine and nine million from the Covax mechanism," González García said during a presentation before the Health Commission of the lower house Chamber of Deputies.
According to the minister, those supplies would be enough to immunise Argentina's entire population over the age of 18.
Although he did not provide details about the delivery schedule for the vaccination campaign, the minister stated that Argentina has "assured the stock [of vaccines] until July."
Argentina has so far received 820,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, produced by the Russian laboratory Gamaleya. The country began its voluntary vaccination campaign on December 29, beginning with healthcare workers and those aged over 70. So far, the Russian vaccine is the only one available in the country.
González García said the Alberto Fernández administration had sent a request to Moscow asking to extend its original contract of 20 million doses to 30 million. He also commented on reports that the government is seeking to produce the vaccine in Argentina,
"We know that the Gamaleya institute is looking for a production plant in Argentina for its vaccine," said the minister.
He refused to elaborate further, saying it was an ongoing "negotiation between private parties."
"We have negotiated with several suppliers and we are certain that we have a supply of several vaccines," saud González García, describing the battle for shots at a global level as "real war."
The minister also indicated that the government is in negotiations with Janssen (from the Johnson & Johnson group) and Chinese firms CanSino and Sinopharm regarding their offerings.
González García also commented on controversy surrounding failed talks with the US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer. The minister said that "contractual requirements" required by the firm were "incompatible with Argentine law."
According to estimates put together by the Health Ministry, Argentina "can only have a herd immunity after July," he added.
"Until then we are going to reduce mortality and serious effects" of the disease through vaccination, he said.
To date, Argentina has registered more than 1.96 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, with more than 48,000 fatalities.