Argentine officials stress the safety of the shots after critics questioned Russia’s decision to approve the vaccine.
Argentina began immunizing its citizens against the coronavirus on Tuesday, administering the first of 300,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine delivered last week, the government said.
Latin America The third economy has been hit hard by COVID-19. Argentina, a country of 45 million people, has recorded nearly 1.6 million infections and nearly 43,000 deaths, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University.
Medical workers began to receive the vaccine, and officials insisted it was safe. President Alberto Fernandez has called it the biggest vaccination campaign in the country’s modern history.
Teachers, people with medical complications and people over 60 were to be next in Argentina, which so far has received 300,000 doses, which will also be free and voluntary.
Argentina became the third country to approve the Sputnik V vaccine, after Russia and Belarus.
Russia has been widely criticized for giving regulatory approval for the nationally developed Sputnik V in August after the vaccine was only tested on a few dozen people. An advanced study began shortly after the vaccine received the green light from the Russian government.
Russia says the criticism is unfounded and health officials say the study has now covered more than 30,000 people, with data suggesting the virus was 91% effective.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called a one-component option a “light vaccine,” which he said would provide less protection than the two components, but “will still be 85 percent” effective.
Argentina’s Minister of Health, Gines Gonzalez Garcia, stressed that the vaccine was safe, speaking to journalists on Tuesday: “We must be afraid of the disease, not the vaccine.”
Reuters news agency reported on Monday that the vaccine sent to Argentina – Russia’s first major international shipment – consisted only of the first dose of the two-dose vaccine, which is easier to manufacture than the second dose.
Russian and Argentinian officials did not immediately comment on when the second dose might arrive.
Argentina has also approved the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech.