Argentina prioritizing 2nd Covid-19 shots amid Delta variant concerns

Buenos Aires, Aug 4 (EFE).- An increase in the number of confirmed Delta variant cases is generating uncertainty in Argentina, where the focus now is on ensuring that people at highest risk of serious complications from Covid-19 complete their two-dose vaccine course.

The central province of Cordoba, where 14 Delta variant cases were reported at the end of last week, is now the Argentine region most affected by that highly contagious strain. All of those cases are linked to a passenger who arrived in the country from Peru on July 19.

In Buenos Aires, two confirmed cases of that variant have been detected that have no known link to a traveler from abroad, and authorities there are trying to trace the chain of transmission.

“If the absence of an epidemiological link is confirmed, they would constitute the first cases in the country unrelated to travelers; and this comes three months after the first Delta variant case was detected in a traveler,” the city said in an official statement.

Health authorities’ strategy for halting the spread of that variant is focused on accelerating immunization campaigns, with a particular emphasis on ensuring that people who have received an initial vaccine dose also are administered the second one.

“August should be second-dose month. We need … to make a quantitative leap as quickly as possible given the Delta variant situation,” Health Minister Carla Vizzotti said.

“The vaccines that arrive from (British-Swedish pharmaceutical and biotechnology company) AstraZeneca and (China’s) Sinopharm will be used to complete (two-dose) courses,” she added, noting that in the case of the Russian-developed Sputnik V vaccine, the only one Argentina has that uses different adenoviruses for the first and second doses, the strategy is to boost local production.

Around 3 million vaccine doses are to be produced in Argentina, with the milestone of 1 million to be reached on Monday, according to Vizzotti, who said Argentina also hopes to receive more doses from Russia.

One possibility authorities are considering is combining vaccines from different suppliers, an option she said has the backing of the scientific community.

“Very significant data supports the theory that the interchanging of vaccines can even stimulate our immune system even more and create more antibodies,” Vizzotti said.

Meanwhile, authorities in Buenos Aires and the country’s 23 provinces continue to push ahead with their vaccination programs.

On Tuesday, they began administering United States-donated Moderna vaccines to adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 with risk factors such as diabetes and obesity.

Argentina, whose population is around 45 million, has thus far administered Covid-19 vaccine doses to 32.9 million people, according to the latest official figures. A total of 25.4 million people have received one dose, while 7.5 million people have been administered the full two-dose course.

Since the launch of the country’s inoculation campaign last December, Argentina has received 42.6 million vaccine doses, around 14.8 million of which correspond to the vaccine developed by China’s Sinopharm, 11.9 million to Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and 9.9 million to the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford-AstraZeneca, whose active ingredient is produced in Argentina. EFE


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