This Wednesday’s announcement of Carla vizzotti in which he confirmed that as of January 2022 Argentina will begin to receive a stock of 20 million vaccines from Pfizer puts the signature to a long-term negotiation between the Government and the pharmaceutical company, full of twists and turns and that the Casa Rosada was forced to accelerate from the lack of doses available on the market and the delays you suffered in deliveries from other suppliers. At about $ 20 a dose, it’s a contract for at least $ 400 million.
As revealed ClarionExactly thirteen months passed between the first meeting that government representatives had with authorities from the US laboratory and Vizzotti’s announcement. Ginés González García was still Minister of Health on June 29, 2020, when on the second floor of the ministry he received Nicolás Vaquer and Juan Ignacio Romano, CEO and Director of Corporate Affairs of the company.
Between that preliminary meeting, at a time when vaccines against Covid-19 were just beginning to be developed, and Vizzotti’s communication, there were 14 more meetings, at least those that were reported through the Single Registry of Hearings of the Ministry of the Interior.
Carla Vizzotti, Minister of Health of the Nation.
With “negligence”, the negotiation falls
In the middle stood out the multiple swings around the fine print of the eventual contract that Pfizer was going to sign and that it was truncated especially after the sanction of the Vaccines law in Congress, on October 31 of last year, when by a motion of the deputy of the Frente de Todos Cecilia Moreau the word was included “negligence”, which scared off the negotiation laboratory, wary of potential legal conflicts to which it could be exposed if the vaccine generated adverse effects.
That moment was key to frustrate the dialogue, since until then Argentina had been making progress in the testing of the vaccine, which was being carried out in the country through the Infant Foundation, led by Fernando Polack, and I was almost guaranteed the supply of doses from January. On July 10, 2020, the President had even received Polack and Vaquer in Olivos. But from that last day of October, everything changed.
On December 15, Vaquer sent a letter to González García in which he assures that the Government ruled out receiving a greater number of doses than it could have acquired and asked to reduce them. “Pfizer maintained the same commercial conditions and dose delivery scheme, without prejudice to the interest expressed by the Government to significantly reduce the number of doses originally offered by Pfizer,” says a section of the text released by the LN + channel. Shortly after, it slipped that Argentina could have received 14 million doses of Pfizer during 2021, but the Government denied that this was the case.
Ginés González García was the one who negotiated with Pfizer throughout 2020, without success.
Following the legislative chapter and the letter from the CEO of Pfizer to the then Minister of Health, there were hardly any a couple more meetings, the last one on December 22, in which the then Undersecretary of Administrative Management Mauricio Monsalvo, the Undersecretary of Legal and Technical Emiliano Suaya and the Legal Director of Pfizer, Alejandro Chevalier, participated for the Ministry of Health.
In that Christmas preview, any chance of negotiation fell permanently and, after a semester of dialogue with Pfizer, Argentina decided to give priority to the contract with Russia for Sputnik V, who in parallel had been working Vizzotti, then Secretary of Access to Health, and the presidential adviser Cecilia Nicolini, who had traveled to Moscow.
Without vaccines, the talks are reactivated
April 12 is the key date in which Argentina returned to negotiate hand in hand with Pfizer, after almost four months of frozen dialogue. That day, in her new role as minister, Vizzotti met with Vaquer and Romano and they reactivated the dialogue. It was a complicated context for Argentina, since four days later Alberto Fernandez announced the return to strict confinement due to the arrival of the second wave of infections and because the second doses of Sputnik V were running low and AstraZeneca’s delivery delay was evident.
After that meeting there were four others, in which the negotiations definitely accelerated. Progress was made in the legal preparation of the contract and that is why it became a key protagonist the Secretary of Legal and Technical Vilma Ibarra, who was in three of those meetings, which were held between April 20 and May 21. The Chief of Cabinet also participated Santiago Cafiero In one of them and, as always, for Salud were Vizzotti or Monsalvo.
The signing of the DNU at the beginning of the month that enabled the Government to manage doses with US laboratories facilitated the entire process of an eternal negotiation, which lasted for more than 13 months and that, in fact, until the first dose of Pfizer to the country, will have demanded a year and a half of tense talks, and several stop and go that could have been avoided.
Argentina is expected to receive the first shipment from Pfizer starting in January, when in much of the region the pharmaceutical company has been distributing doses since the first half of this year.