Argentina aims to have 60 pct of over-50s fully vaccinated by Sept. 1

Buenos Aires, Jul 27 (EFE).- The top health officials of Argentina’s 23 provinces agreed Tuesday that the priority for the country’s vaccination campaign in August will be administering the second dose to people who have already had the first shot.

The goal is for the 60 percent of Argentines over 50 who have had one dose to be fully vaccinated by the start of September, the federal health ministry said in a statement.

Authorities in Argentina, a nation of roughly 45 million people, have administered 30.2 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine since the inoculation effort got under way last December.

Just over 6 million people have gotten both doses.

“If we devote the four weeks in August to completing the dosage, it is very possible we manage to cover the 22 percent of those older than 50 that remain to reach the objective, since to date we have achieved coverage of 37 percent with complete vaccination in this group,” the federal health minister, Dr. Carla Vizzotti, said.

Earlier Tuesday, she announced a deal with Pfizer for the delivery of 20 million vaccine doses by the end of 2021.

The Pfizer doses “will serve to accelerate vaccination in 2021 and (allow Argentina) to think about the strategy for 2022,” Vizzotti told a press conference.

At the start of its inoculation program, Argentina relied on the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine, but problems have emerged because of a vast imbalance in the numbers of first doses and second doses that have been delivered, 9.38 million vs. 2.5 million.

The health minister said Tuesday that Sputnik V differs from the other vaccines in that the first and second doses vary in their chemical composition, suggesting that the shortfall was due to lack of raw materials for the second dose.

“One cannot compare that situation with the rest of the vaccines because they are two components,” she said.

“Argentina demands the fulfillment of contracts with all of the laboratories and that is why we are among the 20 countries that have received the most vaccines and we already have 42 million (doses),” Vizzotti said.

Regarding the state of the pandemic in Argentina, she pointed to “nine consecutive weeks of a reduction of cases and seven weeks with a reduction of deaths and intensive-care hospitalizations.”

Argentina has lost 104,000 lives to the coronavirus and the number of confirmed infections stands at 4.86 million. EFE nk-apr/dr

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