Delivery of Russian vaccine to Argentina delayed: govt

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Buenos Aires (AFP)

The scheduled delivery to Argentina this week of doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine has been delayed indefinitely, a government source in Buenos Aires told AFP Tuesday.

An Aerolineas Argentinas flight was scheduled to depart to Russia last Sunday to bring back a third batch of the 19.4 million doses Moscow had committed to provide before the end of February. So far, Argentina says it has received 600,000 shots of the vaccine that requires two doses.

Airline boss Pablo Ceriano said on Twitter Monday the flight would be rescheduled "as soon as we have a confirmation from all the parties involved in the supply chain."

On Tuesday, a government source told AFP a new date had not yet been set. The government has not provided a reason for the delay.

Aerolineas Argentinas has undertaken two flights to Russia and back so far to bring doses of the vaccine which Argentina started administering on December 29.

The country of 44 million inhabitants has recorded 1.8 million coronavirus infections and 47,000 deaths.

It is administering the second vaccine dose to health personnel in the initial stage of a national inoculation program.

The government in Buenos Aires says it has secured more than 51 million vaccine doses.

Including its deal with Russia's Gamaleya laboratory, Argentina has signed contracts for the delivery of the shot developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, is negotiating with drugmaker Pfizer for access to its vaccine, and will also get doses under the UN's Covax distribution project.

Sputnik V is still undergoing Phase 3 trails, the final testing round before a drug is approved.

Russia says the shot has been given to some 1.5 million people, and early trial results have shown it to be more than 90 percent effective.

Europe, too, is having trouble getting promised vaccine deliveries as drugmakers battle to keep up with demand.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said Tuesday companies "must honor their obligations" after British-Swedish group AstraZeneca and US company Pfizer both announced delivery delays.

Italy has threatened to take legal action against Pfizer.