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BUENOS AIRES, Dec 23 (Reuters) – Argentina has granted emergency approval for use of Russia’s Sputnik COVID-19 vaccine, the South American country’s health ministry said in a statement on Wednesday, becoming the third country after Russia and Belarus to approve the vaccine.
The first doses of Sputnik were expected to arrive in Argentina over the days ahead, officials in both countries said. Some 42,254 people in Argentina have died of COVID-19 so far, official data shows.
“The product presents an acceptable benefit-risk balance,” said a statement from Argentina’s National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology, or ANMAT.
Hours earlier, Argentina joined the fast-growing list of countries around the world to approve emergency use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine.
Some Western scientists have raised concerns about the speed at which Russia has worked, giving the regulatory go-ahead for its vaccines and launching large-scale vaccinations before full trials to test Sputnik V’s safety and efficacy have been completed. Russia says the criticism is unfounded.
Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russia’s RDIF sovereign wealth fund, told Reuters that Argentina would receive 300,000 doses of the Sputnik vaccine on Thursday. He said it was one of the largest shipments to Latin America of any vaccine.
“This is a very important step. We believe this is great news for Argentina for Christmas. We should all be trying to help each other given the circumstances,” Dmitriev said.
There was big demand from Sputnik from other Latin American countries, Dmitriev said, adding he expected further news about Sputnik deliveries to the region in January. (Reporting by Hugh Bronstein in Buenos Aires, Andrew Osborn in Moscow Editing by Daniel Flynn and Barbara Lewis)