Argentine President Alberto Fernandez has dismissed fears of using Russia’s Sputnik V to vaccinate the population, arguing that the inoculation fell victim to a smear campaign driven by politics.
Competitors are eager to “discredit each other,” Fernandez told TV Publica in an interview broadcasted on Monday, adding that the coronavirus vaccine market is worth “tens of billions of dollars.”
“A trade war has been unleashed and, as everyone hopes for a vaccine, there is a geopolitical debate about who imposes it.”
“They call it a Russian vaccine and not the Gamaleya vaccine,” Fernandez said, referring to the drug’s developer, the Moscow-based Gamaleya Research Institute.
“There are political sectors that inform or misinform, and use this vaccine as part of their game,” he added, noting how some players are interested in “scaring” the public away from getting a shot and are “sowing doubts.”
“I would not dare to say that one is better than the other. How do you compare? I cared a lot about negotiating with everyone: we are buying vaccines of Covax, of AstraZeneca, we have bought a vaccine from Russia, we continue negotiations with China and we continue the talks with Pfizer, because the truth is that we need vaccines.”
We are waiting for others when we start negotiations, and suddenly – don’t ask me how – we’re apparently sinners for having brought 300,000 doses of vaccine to Argentina, when some other [nations] are asking for any vaccine for their people.
Argentina began a mass vaccination campaign using Sputnik V on Tuesday.
Some shade has been cast on the Russian-made vaccine after documents were leaked to Argentine media reportedly saying that 12 volunteers have had “adverse” side-effects during the trial, among them three volunteers over the age of 60 had suffered from abscesses, abdominal pains, and blood clot.
However, Eduardo Lopez, an infectious disease expert at the Ricardo Gutierrez Children’s Hospital in Buenos Aires, told La Nacion newspaper that such severe symptoms were “almost certainly” not related to the vaccine.