The mysterious visit of a Mexican official to Argentina a week ago ended with the announcement in Mexico that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador decided to buy from the Russians 24 million doses of Sputnik V vaccine.
The events that occurred there – where the AMLO government faces criticism for having first been a denier of the coronavirus pandemic and now for being without vaccines – shed light on the trip that the Mexican Undersecretary of Health, Hugo López, made to Argentina on Thursday 7 Gatell. And they coincide with the announcement in Moscow that the mass vaccination with Sputnik V.
On the one hand, because according to the Mexican president himself, the Russians are charging $ 20 for the two applications it takes to make up a dose. In Argentina, $ 12 million would be spent for the 600,000 doses which will be being purchased for now -this Thursday an Airlines plane leaves for Russia to bring the 300,000 that are missing- and 400 million dollars for the 20 million that the Government assures that they will be acquired.
One of the boxes in which Sputnik V was distributed, when the first 300 thousand doses arrived in the country. Photo Bloomberg.
The Mexican issue also sheds light on how complex are the negotiations with the government of Vladimir Putin and the Russian Sovereign Fund, which develops them. These negotiations are so opaque that the Mexican authorities recognized that they had not been able to access information about the medicine. And that is why they sent here the Undersecretary of Health, Hugo López Gatell.
Alberto Fernández considers López Obrador an ally and maintains a fluid dialogue with Maximiliano Reyes Zúñiga, undersecretary for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Mexican Foreign Ministry, a link between the two governments.
In Mexico, they said that they spoke with Argentines about the “concerns” they had about the effectiveness of Sputnik against Covid 19 when only the results of its phase 2 were officially known. López Gatell does not have a good image in Mexico, since he is branded as the figure that has blocked the purchase of other vaccines, but López Obrador has defended it.
An image of the start of vaccination with Sputnik V in Argentina. Photo Bloomberg.
The truth is that López-Gatell traveled to Argentina on Thursday 7 to meet with President Fernández. But their central meetings were with Cecilia Nicolini, and with the Deputy Minister of Health, Carla Vizzotti.
Both officials have already traveled to Moscow twice, the first time in secret. Nicolini is Fernández’s most trusted advisor on this matter, and Vizzotti, who brings Health issues directly to him, beyond the setback he had this week due to the journalistic interview in which he said that giving a single dose of Sputnik to more people instead of two to fewer people was evaluated. That was ruled out by Fernández himself and with criticism of Vizzotti.
Nicolini and the vice minister had lunch with López Gatell on Thursday 7 and they spoke well of Sputnik V. They told him that the results of phase 3 will be available soon. Afterwards, Gatell was with Alberto F. and that would have decided López Obrador for the Russian vaccine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin at a conference on coronavirus. Your country produces the Sputnik V vaccine.
With 128 million inhabitants, Mexico added 1.55 million coronavirus infections and 135,682 deaths until this Wednesday, fourth in the world in victims.
Although it announced the start of a new stage of its vaccination plan with 439,725 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech – to doctors who treat patients with COVID 19 – these are not enough, as in Argentina. Your vaccination plan generates strong concerns as here AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford which is produced in Argentina. It will be packaged by the Liomont laboratory, based in the central State of Mexico.
“Now that Hugo has returned from Argentina, which brings us the good news that we will be able to have the vaccine from the Russian pharmaceutical company, that they are willing to sell us, if it is approved in Mexico and that is what we are going to do in these days ”, López Obrador began saying in his morning conferences this Tuesday.
Sputnik V has so far been licensed in Belarus, Algeria, Venezuela, Bolivia and Serbia, and for now only 1.5 million doses have been distributed in the world, according to data from the Russian Sovereign Fund, RDIF, which finances its development.