Argentina has launched a nationwide campaign to vaccinate the public against Covid-19, deploying 300,000 doses of Russia’s pioneering Sputnik V vaccine. Medics are the primary recipients.

The first shipment of the vaccine arrived in Argentina last Thursday. On Tuesday, it commenced vaccinations in 23 provinces and in the city of Buenos Aires, local media reported. Most of the doses are meant for frontline workers – doctors and nurses working with Covid-19 patients in hospitals. Dr. Francisco Traverso, who works at the Posadas Hospital in the capital was the first to get the vaccine to the applause of his colleagues and the health minister, Gines Gonzalez Garcia.

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A few people from other professions were among the first recipients as well. Axel Kicillof, the governor of Buenos Aires, proudly showed his immunization certificate to journalists as a gesture of confidence in the Russian formula. Kicillof is a vocal proponent of cooperating with Moscow to fight Covid-19.

Tuesday’s deployment started with a publicity campaign after a draft internal report by the Argentinian drug regulator was leaked to the media on Monday. The document said a handful of volunteers who participated in clinical trials of Sputnik V developed more serious side effects than the common mild flu-like symptoms. However, Eduardo Lopez, an infectious disease expert at the Ricardo Gutierrez Children’s Hospital in Buenos Aires, told local La Nacion newspaper that such symptoms were “almost certainly” not related to the vaccine.

Officials assured that they will be closely monitoring the health of all vaccinated people and will provide more information to the public with more data when available.

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