“We are going to sit down and talk with everyone, without distinction,” was the phrase released by an Alberto Fernández government official a year ago, as soon as the possibility of Argentina starting to buy doses of the vaccine against Covid began to hint at -19. The delay it was huge.
Only now, after advancing with the purchase of doses of Sputnik, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm, the Casa Rosada accelerated the different negotiations that it has been holding with leading laboratories in the supply of vaccines.
The most emblematic case is that of Pfizer, a company with which he resumed the talks after the short circuit that arose from the application of the vaccine law, although progress was also made in different meetings with Moderna, Janssen and especially Cansino, the Chinese laboratory with which an arrival of 5.4 million doses was agreed starting this month. There have been 26 meetings with these laboratories, in total, since the pandemic began.
At the same time, the Government is working on the development of a DNU that allows modifying the legislation on vaccines approved by Congress, to establish a new legal framework and thus access a greater number of doses from different laboratories.
Mainly taking into account the concrete possibility that the Joe Biden government in the United States begins to distribute doses of Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen (among other laboratories) to countries in Latin America.
In pursuit of this, it will also access a loan from the World Bank, which is available to finance the purchase of all the developments included within the Covax Fund and the vaccines that were approved by the WHO.
Negotiating with Pfizer
With the exception of the scandal that arose as a result of the VIP Vaccination, the negotiation with Pfizer was the one that brought the Government the greatest headaches in all this stage of meetings with laboratories.
After agreeing that Argentina should host one of the test phases of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the Government began to have talks about the arrival of this vaccine, the one with the highest approval at the time within the scientific community.
There were a series of meetings between June and December 2020, but at the end of October, Congress sanctioned the vaccine law and included in it a term that fell badly within the company: negligence. In total, since the pandemic began, there have been 16 meetings between government officials and Pfizer.
Pfizer’s own general manager in the country, Nicolás Vaquer, confirmed in Congress some time later that that word was not in the original project and that it was not in the project sent by the executive and that it was added at the request of the deputy. Kirchner Cecilia Moreau, signed the contract that was to supply the country with almost 13 million vaccines.
After four months without negotiations, on April 12 Vaquer had a meeting with Health Minister Carla Vizzotti and other officials and progress was made on the possibility that doses of Pfizer could reach the country.
From there, the talks became much more frequent: there were four new meetings, on April 20 and 29, and on May 14 and 21, in which with the Secretary of Legal and Technical Vilma Ibarra, the Minister of Labor Claudio Moroni and the Chief of Cabinet Santiago Cafiero present began to debate on the fine print of that sanctioned vaccine law.
The chance of any arrival of Pfizer in the country, as is known, depends on the change in regulation that the Government hopes to be able to achieve from the DNU that it prepares.
Negotiating with Moderna
.As reported Clarion This Friday, the Government began to negotiate for the first time since the pandemic began with the Moderna laboratory, one of the most recognized worldwide and the one with the highest response percentage against the dreaded Delta variant.
From the preliminary talk, as this newspaper was able to learn, it was agreed to continue moving forward in search of another meeting, in which it can be probed about possible dose arrivals from the US laboratory. A new appointment is not ruled out in the coming weeks.
The key leg of the meeting was the World Bank, present through two representatives, which negotiates with Argentina the arrival of a loan for the purchase of vaccines, of which it has not yet defined the amount. Moderna, like Pfizer and other developments already approved, are in the catalog that could be accessed if the loan is closed with the financial institution.
The other way to get a dose of Moderna is through the transfer that the United States will make in Latin American countries, but this also requires adapting the legal framework.
Negotiations with Janssen
Less promoted than with Pfizer, but repeated in recent months, were the meetings that the Executive had with the Janssen laboratory -also American- for the possibility of acquiring its vaccine, which was also tested in the country last year.
There were four in total, and in all of them there were representatives of the Ministry of Health, either Vizzotti, the secretary of Administrative Management Mauricio Monsalvo, or the presidential advisor Cecilia Nicolini..
In the first two, they talked about “issues concerning the vaccine against Covid-19”, but in the last two they have already worked on signing the contract. Vizzotti led the meetings on April 29 and June 4, which were attended by the pharmaceutical company Sebastián Parigi and Paula Barreyro, general manager and medical director, respectively.
Janssen, like Moderna, has not yet obtained authorization from the Anmat, and in order for it to reach the country, the legal framework needs to be reformulated. For this reason, until now Argentina was not included in the shipments that the United States has already made to other South American countries such as Brazil, Ecuador and Uruguay.
Negotiations with CanSino
Signed in mid-May, the agreement with the Cansino Biologics laboratory was the last of those that the Government closed and that ensured a supply of 5.4 million vaccines that will begin to arrive in the country from this month.
Being of a single application, the Chinese Cansino allows to accelerate the vaccination processes in the population in a context of shortage of second doses, especially of Sputnik V.
There were five meetings that the Government had with the company since May, always with the Pablo Cassará laboratory as a local interlocutor. The first was on May 14 and the last on June 29, in which it was directly discussed how the payments were going to be made in the contract and what the delivery deadlines were going to be.
The first shipments are expected to begin arriving later this month. The effectiveness of the vaccine, which was also tested in Argentina by the Fundación Host, achieved an effectiveness of 65.7% for symptomatic cases and 90.98% for severe cases. Each dose has an estimated market value of $ 14.