Russia has confirmed that a new consignment of second doses of the Sputnik V vaccine will arrive in Argentina early next week, following recent controversy over a reported lack of the shots to complete vaccination schedules for millions of people.
Government officials also announced midweek that Laboratorios Richmond will begin producing the second component at its plant in Argentina. The pharmaceutical firm is now manufacturing doses of Sputnik V at its plant in Buenos Aires Province.
In recent weeks, delays for those awaiting second doses of the Russian vaccine prompted a wave of criticism, mostly aired on social networks and from opposition leaders questioning the government.
Some Argentines logged their complaints on Twitter and Facebook, complaining about the cancellation of scheduled appointments for their second doses. Others said they are still waiting to be notified when they can get their second jab, despite the period of three months stipulated between vaccinations drawing close.
The Russian government addressed the issue directly on Wednesday, explaining that it would meet all their commitments but that the current priority is vaccinating its own population.
"Our absolute priority is indeed satisfying our internal needs, which is the priority our factories and departments are concentrating on right now," confirmed Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov.
According to Russia’s state media channel RT, an Argentine government spokesman maintained that Russia had already been asked to send more doses.
"We’re working to comply with our vaccination timetable and asking Russia to send second doses because there are many people reaching 12 weeks since the first dose," indicated the source.
The controversy boiled up further following ironic remarks by President Alberto Fernández, during a speech to a national convention of bank clerks.
"We’re in a country where we are accused of bribery when we buy vaccines, of poisoning people when we get them and then when we do get them, they go clamouring for a second dose of venom," he said, taking aim at Juntos por el Cambio.
Far from burying the issue, various opposition leaders described his words "a tantrum," reminding him that "there are six million Argentines anxiously awaiting their second dose."
Juntos por el Cambio lower house caucus chief Mario Negri (Radical-Córdoba) and Radical party chairman Alfredo Cornejo (Mendoza) fired back at the Peronist leader.
"Instead of attacking the opposition with tantrums, he should give answers to a society in distress. Cheap shots won’t gain us vaccines," responded Negri.
According to the government data, as of midweek 20,947,590 vaccines had been distributed to all jurisdictions, of which 18,870,108 have already been applied, 15,082,417 representing a first dose and 3,787,691 the second.
Since the vaccination plan began, Argentina has received a total of 23,816,145 different doses to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.