Friday, December 8, 2023

ARGENTINA | 04-06-2021 23:41

More than three million vaccines arrive, Pfizer controversy rages on

Pfizer controversy takes over political debate as Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero appears before Congress.

This week’s vaccine deliveries totalled almost three million doses between the arrival of the first 2,148,600 doses of AstraZeneca in the closing hours of May and over 818,150 more doses of Russia’s Sputnik V landing aboard Aerolíneas Argentinas flight AR1061 at Ezeiza airport on Thursday night, taking Argentina’s total receipts during the coronavirus pandemic up to 18,450,150 doses, of which 2,996,750 arrived in the past week in a clear acceleration of vaccine acquisitions.

As of Friday at 5pm, 17,495,490 doses had been distributed, with 13,610,031 applied. More than 10.6 million individuals have received the first dose, while 2.988 million have been given both.

The vaccination issue found Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero in the hot seat in Congress where he showed up on Wednesday to deliver his first report of the year (supposedly a monthly obligation). He was bombarded with over 1,000 questions with various aspects of the government’s vaccination campaign predominant, especially regarding the failed contract with Pfizer, the delays with AstraZeneca despite 60 percent advance payments and undershooting orders from the Covax global programme. Regarding the latter issue, Cafiero explained that Argentina had only ordered 10 percent of its Covax entitlement due to the cost.

On the same day Juntos por el Cambio deputy Carmen Polledo (PRO-City), who seconds Pablo Yedlin (Frente de Todos-Tucumán) on the Health Committee, submitted a bill to unblock the negotiations with Pfizer by removing the clause of last year’s legislation holding labs responsible for any “negligence.” Health Committee chairman Yedlin said that his caucus was ready to consider this bill. 

The Pfizer controversy prompted former Health minister Ginés González García to break over three months of silence since being forced to resign over the so-called “VIP vaccine” scandal. He explained that quite apart from the “negligence” problem, the shortfalls with both Pfizer and Cofax had not been considered so important at the time because Argentina was considered to be amply covered with over 40 million doses in the pipeline between AstraZeneca and Sputnik. But his successor, Health Minister Carla Vizzotti, preferred to stress the “negligence” obstacle as the main reason for the deadlock with Pfizer.

Finally, Lower House Speaker Sergio Massa yesterday summoned all labs manufacturing vaccines against Covid-19, included Pfizer, to appear in Congress next Tuesday “to account for themselves” regarding both contracts and deliveries. The summons was agreed with the Juntos por el Cambio opposition caucus chief Mario Negri (Radical-Córdoba), as well as the leaders of third parties. 



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