Argentina begins COVID-19 vaccination drive with Russian Sputnik V

Argentina begins COVID-19 vaccination drive with Russian Sputnik V
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Argentina began its COVID-19 vaccine rollout Tuesday using the Russian Sputnik V version, becoming the third country in the world to administer that type of shot outside of trials.

Around 300,000 people are expected to be given the shot as inoculations began Tuesday, with the country expecting to receive 20 million doses within the next two months.

Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez lauded the public's trust in the vaccine on state television, saying that he thinks "people have a lot of faith in the vaccine," Bloomberg reported.

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Some critics of the Sputnik V vaccine have questioned its efficacy after the Kremlin announced its registration before all clinical trials were completed. Developers have found it is 91 percent effective after people received two doses.

Vaccines are free and voluntary for residents of Argentina. Priority rollouts mirror those of other nations, which focus primarily on inoculating vulnerable elderly populations and medical workers.

Argentina ranks 11th in the world for COVID-19 deaths at 42,868 since the pandemic began. It is 12th in most cases at 1.6 million.

The doses to Argentine residents Tuesday mark the first step of the Sputnik V immunization process. A second dose containing a different vector will arrive next month and will be administered to everyone who has received the first shot.

Mexico, Costa Rica and Chile also began inoculations this week using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was also the first vaccine to be deployed in the U.S. Several other countries in Latin America are awaiting final approval for AstraZeneca's vaccine variant.

Meanwhile, in Europe, residents of Belarus also began receiving the Sputnik V vaccine on the same day as Argentina as Russia seeks to send its vaccine candidate to more people outside its borders, The Associated Press reported.

Vaccinations will also be voluntary in the former Soviet republic, said Belarusian Health Minister Dmitry Pinevich.

Despite rollout in two other nations besides its own, many Russians remain skeptical of their country's own vaccine. Only 38 percent of residents say they are ready to take the shot, according to a Dec. 21-23 poll by the Levada Center, Bloomberg reported.