President Alberto Fernández signed a DNU on Friday that will modify the vaccine law passed in Congress last year that would allow the Executive to advance in negotiations with the laboratories Pfizer, Janssen and Moderna. Private laboratories of American origin did not accept current regulations. The impossibility of advancing with a contract slowed the sending of Joe Biden’s government donations to the country through the Covax mechanism of the WHO. The Executive seeks to overcome a thorny issue.
“The Government will publish tomorrow a Decree of Necessity and Urgency to modify the Vaccine Law with the aim that Argentina can buy pediatric vaccines and can broaden the spectrum of vaccines available to the general population “, said the Legal and Technical Secretary Vilma Ibarra during a press conference with the Minister of Health Carla vizzotti.
Now, to ensure the arrival and advance with the purchases of vaccines, the State must sign contracts with the laboratories and the ANMAT authorize its use. So far, of the companies mentioned, only Pfizer has the endorsement of the control body that would soon enable its use in children and adolescents. “We are working so that those under 18 receive the vaccine that is available as soon as possible. It is incomplete to think that a single vaccine (by Pfizer) can be available in Argentina in the medium term, there are several, “he said.
The main legal sword of the Casa Rosada highlighted that in the DNU which, according to it, emerged from negotiations with laboratories and by instruction of the President. The decree abolishes article 4 of the vaccine law that refers to the “Negligence of course of responsibility”For those in charge of research, production and supply of the vaccines that the laboratories had objected to and that generated cross versions within the ruling party about the origin of that term.
The article referring to fraudulent maneuvers. However, laboratories must respond to “malicious conduct”, as established in article 1724 of the Civil Code.
The protection and immunity of State property from possible executions will not be total, as provided by the law passed in November. Only sovereign assets will be excepted -diplomatic representations, Central Bank accounts, military and Security inventory-, but not the private state assets provided for in article 236 of the Civil Code or federal royalties.
To resolve possible claims of victims, Ibarra also announced the creation of a Covid-19 damage repair fund, the amount of which he did not specify and that the State will pay with 1.25% of each vaccine purchased. “It is a mechanism that exists in many countries of the world and gives peace of mind regarding hiring,” Ibarra said.
The President decided to pave the way to sign contracts with American laboratories a year after having received the director of Pfizer in Olivos in Argentina, Nicolás Vaquer. Negotiations with the US laboratory fell apart despite the fact that Argentina was one of the first countries to accept a clinical trial of the same and a political storm was unleashed.
Fernández denounced that the laboratory asked him for “horrible conditions”, although he never said what they were. Other pro-government leaders, such as Cecilia Moreau (indicated as the person responsible for having added the term “negligence” at the last minute in the original law) argued that the laboratory asked that natural resources be included as a guarantee. Vaquer, called by Congress, stated that with the current legal framework it was impossible for him to seal an agreement. PRO President Patricia Bullrich accused the Government of asking for “a return” in exchange for the contract and the President sued her.
The head of state advanced with a DNU a day after the ruling party refused to discuss in deputies possible changes to the vaccine law. “If that was voted we could not hire. No one from the opposition was at the negotiating table. If they cannot tell us something, it is that there was political use. The times of the Congress are not those of the pandemic ”, Ibarra argued before the accredited journalists while the presidential adviser and in charge of the negotiations with the laboratories Cecilia Nicolini, Alejandro Grimson and the Secretary of Communication Juan Pablo Biondi listened.
The President reviewed the details of the DNU with the Legal Secretary in the morning in Olivos.
This week Washington confirmed the shipment of vaccines to Peru, El Salvador and Colombia, which with a population similar to Argentina will receive 3.5 million single doses of Janssen. Presidential officials preferred not to specify the number of donations that Argentina will receive.
Vizzotti and Ibarra highlighted that the new legal framework will be used in future negotiations with all laboratories. The political pressure of the opposition and the social that pushed parents who demanded the vaccination of their minor children with comorbidities had a profound effect on the Casa Rosada, which now seeks to turn the page.