1st batch of approved COVID vaccines reaches Latin America
MEXICO CITY (AP) - The first officially approved batch of coronavirus vaccines to arrive in Latin America was held with ceremonies for a VIP on Wednesday - flags, television cameras and cabinet-level dignitaries stood on the runway in Mexico.
At the other end of the region, Argentina announced that it had approved two vaccines, including one that has no distribution agreement and one from Russia.
A DHL flight landed at Mexico City International Airport and a ground crew unloaded the first batches of ultra-cold vaccines made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.
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"The end of this pandemic begins today," said Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, one of the officials who saw the plane land.
The first vaccines should be given to health workers in Mexico City and the northern city of Saltillo starting Thursday.
The first shipment contained only 3,000 cans with which to test the logistics procedures.
Pfizer vaccine shipments are slated to arrive in several other Latin American countries this week, and vaccine candidates from other manufacturers have already arrived in Brazil and several other countries pending formal approval from their health authorities.
Mexico expects to receive 1.4 million doses of the Pfizer BioNTech product by the end of January.
In Argentina, health officials announced on Wednesday that they too had approved the Pfizer vaccine, although the government has not yet been able to work out a deal to get it.
However, the Ministry of Health said it had also approved Russia's Sputnik-V vaccine in an emergency, and officials said an initial batch of 300,000 should arrive in the country of around 45 million people on Thursday, with more than 42,000 deaths from COVID- 19 were recorded.
The Sputnik V has been described as a "safe and effective therapeutic tool", although the vaccine itself was subject to skepticism in its home country due to a hasty approval process.
Russian officials approved the vaccine on Aug. 11 before the late-stage efficacy and safety tests were completed.
Despite announcing a mass vaccination campaign, there are so far no over 60s, and polls show many Russians are unwilling to get the shot.
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