Argentine laboratory Richmond Tuesday delivered the first batch of locally-produced Sputnik V vaccines against covid-19 to be sent to Russia's Gamaleya Institute for final validation, it was announced.
Scientists in Moscow will take between two and three weeks to review the samples of dose 1 and 2 for which the active components of the immunizers have been brought from Russia into Argentine for final processing.
According to the Direct Investment Fund of Russia (RDIF), the Gamaleya Institute, the Richmond Laboratory and the Casa Rosada, if things go well, production could start in June, but the projected output will depend on negotiations between Presidential Adviser Cecilia Nicolini and Richmond CEO Marcelo Figueiras.
However, Richmond sources estimate the initial goal will be one million doses monthly, which may grow to five million.
The local variant of the Russian vaccine is to be called Sputnik VIDA (acronym for Vacuna de Inmunización para el Desarrollo Argentino, or Immunization Vaccine for Argentine Development).
At the time Argentina's drug agency ANMAT green-lighted the use of the Sputnik V vaccine, the only other country to have done it was Belarus. But it was not before a publication in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet in January that Argentines began accepting the Sputnik V as a good option, following the setbacks in negotiations to import both the Pfizer and the Astra Zeneca versions. The latter was even to be manufactured locally, but as its side effects stopped its use globally, Argentines were left with nothing had it not been for Sputnik or China's Sinopharm.
Nevertheless, 864,000 doses of AZ arrived in Argentina last week as a part of the Covax international relief program.
As early as November 2020, RDIF scientists were in Argentina to probe the possibilities with various laboratories in the country, leading up to the selection of Richmond and to Figueiras travelling to Moscow to sign a memorandum of understanding, whereby a new plant in Pilar, in the outskirts of Buenos Aires is to be built while production was to start in the meantime in the available facilities.