Argentine Health Minister Carla Vizzotti Tuesday highlighted the importance of further strengthening ties with the United Kingdom regarding the supply of anticoronavirus vaccines.
Vizzotti is in England together with Presidential advisor Cecilia Nicolini to meet with local health authorities and exchange mutual experiences regarding both countries' vaccination campaigns.
The Argentine officials have met with the UK's Minister for the Deployment of Vaccines Nadhim Zahawi and with Wendy Morton, who is in charge of Europe and the Americas within the Foreign Office.
The reason for the visit was to deepen bilateral relationships and work to see first-hand and always thinking about the experience that the United Kingdom has in this matter, not only with vaccination against the coronavirus but in general, because it is a leader in that area, Vizzotti told Télam.
We also spoke with Zahawi about the UK's strategy of prioritizing the first dose to vaccinate a larger population and the work it is doing now to combat the Delta variant, with the second doses, the vaccination of teenagers and the surveillance of vaccine safety, she added.
Nicolini also pointed out that Argentina had implemented the same strategy as the United Kingdom with Sputnik, prioritizing the first dose.
The United Kingdom extended the interval between the first and the second doses up to 12 weeks, a decision which was made when vaccination had already begun, in a context of many infections, hundreds of daily deaths and the mutation of the virus towards the British variant, but that time gap has now been cut down to four weeks.
In mid-January, the United Kingdom had almost 33,000 hospitalized patients, with an average of over 50,000 new daily infections, with the vaccine as the only solution, in addition to strict confinement.
Vizzotti highlighted the achievements of strict lockdowns implemented in the UK since mid-December and the need for measures to have a good impact on vaccination.
Surely we will begin to see it also very soon. Because it is already very clearly evident that in this new wave, the increase in infections due to the Delta variant does not increase in a correlated way with hospitalizations or deaths, which is very positive, Vizzotti explained.
“Now we have a sustained decrease in the number of cases that still worries us and seems high, but in another scenario, we would not have been able to control it,” she added.
Vizzotti also said she discussed bilateral cooperation in other areas and the training of professionals during her meeting with Morton and with Dame Sally Davies, the special envoy on Antimicrobial Resistance. The minister stressed that an issue such as the inappropriate use of antimicrobials was also added to the agenda.
Nicolini pointed out that the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from November 1 to 12, was a good opportunity to deepen and establish new cooperative ties in an issue as strategic and as global as the pandemic. The relationship we have in the framework of the pandemic with the British minister on the subject of vaccines is very close and we have a very good scientific and health cooperation, Nicolini insisted.
Both officials are expected Wednesday to hold a meeting with AstraZeneca Executive Vice President Menelao Pangalos, with whom they will also visit the company's new R&D centre. They are also scheduled to visit the Wellcome Sanger Institute, in the town of Hinxton, in addition to meeting with scientists at Oxford to learn about the progress of production strategies, new variants, reinforcements, clinical trials in children and teenagers.
Vizzotti and Nicolini will meet with Health Minister Sajid Javid on Thursday when they return to London.
Meanwhile, Argentine President Alberto Fernández Tuesday forecast that come September I estimate that we will all be vaccinated.
He added that after September when we finish vaccinating everyone, let's get ready to enjoy a beautiful spring and a beautiful summer in Argentina.