Argentina will begin combining coronavirus vaccines, using shots from the AstraZeneca and Moderna laboratories as second doses to complete immunisation plan for those who received Sputnik V, Health Minister Carla Vizzotti announced on Wednesday.
Individuals who received a first dose of Sputnik V will be able to apply for another vaccine or wait for the arrival of the Russian shot’s second component, Vizzoti said, as she discussed the initial results of combination trials in Buenos Aires City and Province.
"We are in a position to advance with the exchange of different vaccines, starting with the Spuntik V vaccine with Moderna and AstraZeneca, while we continue to build evidence,” said the minister, who highlighted trials underway in other nations, including the United Kingdom.
Sputnik V was the first Covid-19 vaccine to reach Argentina in December 2020. Eight months on, with fears over the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant sweeping the continent, millions of Argentines are still awaiting their second dose of the Russian jab.
The decision to combine vaccines "is voluntary,” said Vizzoti, who said mixing shots is “safe and effective.”
“The preliminary results of an interim analysis in relation to safety and immunogenicity have been satisfactory and encouraging," the minister insisted. “It is important to be able to receive the second dose as quickly as possible.
While the Delta variant is not yet the dominant strain in Argentina, the government has set a target of having at least 60 percent of the over-50s age group fully vaccination by the end of August. To fulfill that goal, another 2.3 million doses are needed, said Vizzotti.
As of Wednesday, 25.5 million people (56.6 percent of the population) have received at least a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, of which 7.5 million (16.6 percent) are fully vaccinated.
Argentina, with 45 million inhabitants, has to date acquired some 35.5 million doses of the Sputnik V, Sinopharm and Astrazeneca shots, in addition to 3.5 million Moderna vaccines, which are being used to vaccinate minors with Covid-19 risk factors.
Laboratorios Richmond, a local firm based in Buenos Aires Province, has promised to supply some three million second doses of Sputnik V before the end of the month, after it was announced that its initial run has passed quality control checks.
The Alberto Fernández administration is also banking on some three million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and eight million more from the Sinopharm laboratory, Vizzoti said Wednesday.
Argentina has recorded almost five million infections and more than 106,700 fatalities since the start of the pandemic.