Wednesday 12 August 2020
President Alberto Fernández held a meeting at the Olivos Presidential Residence with representatives of the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the biotechnology firm mAbxience of the INSUD Group, who shared the agreement that was recently signed with a view to facilitating technology transfer for the initial production of 150 million doses of the active substance for the potential COVID-19 vaccine.
“Latin American production will be handled in Argentina and Mexico and that will allow timely and efficient access for all countries in the region”, the President stated during a subsequent press conference that he gave alongside Health Minister Ginés González García and the Secretary for Access to Healthcare, Carla Vizzotti.
For Fernández, this agreement “gives Argentina peace of mind, allowing it to have access to the vaccine when required, and at a reasonable price”.
The intention is to supply Argentina and other Latin American countries by the first half of 2021. This will be subject to the results of phase 3 trials and securing the relevant regulatory approval. The possibility of producing millions of supplementary doses in addition to those set out in this initial deal is being considered.
Of all the vaccines to be produced, the national government reported that around 22,400,000 doses will be ring-fenced for healthcare and security personnel, the elderly and at-risk groups.
During the meeting, details of the agreement were shared and officials stressed the multinational’s firm commitment to supporting broad and equal access to the medicine, stating that no profits will be made whilst the pandemic remains ongoing. Part of the agreement in question states that mAbxience is to produce the active substance of the potential vaccine in Argentina and that Mexican laboratory Liomont will complete the production process and apply the finishing touches.
Alberto Fernández said that he was “very proud that our country has been selected to produce the active substance for the potential Covid-19 vaccine”.
The leader stated that: “This provides great relief for the future, but is not a solution for the present; in the present we continue to face the same problems that we are seeing and unfortunately what it shows is that the rate of infection and death toll are on the rise and that at this stage in proceedings this is largely down to how citizens are behaving, because we have all seen how measures have eased to a great extent".
González García said that “it is not easy to produce the raw materials for a vaccine of this complexity and the fact that we have the capacity to do so fills us with pride”. Furthermore, he added that when vaccinating the population in our country, "the elderly, healthcare workers and those with pre-existing underlying health conditions will be given priority".
Agustín Lamas, President of AstraZeneca for the Southern Cone Region added that: “this deal goes to show the calibre of professionals, quality of science and production capacity that our country has to offer. If the clinical trials come back positive, this strategic alliance will provide early access to the potential COVID-19 vaccine for Argentina".
Participating via videolink, Hugo Sigman, CEO of mAbxience biotech Argentina (INSUD Group) added: “we are honoured that AstraZeneca has placed its trust in mAbxience for the transfer of technology to facilitate the production of the active substance for the vaccine” in the framework of a “noteworthy collaboration that we have built in order to tackle this pandemic together".
In attendance at the meeting were Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers, Santiago Cafiero, the Minister for Health, Gines González García, and the Secretary for Access to Healthcare, Carla Vizzotti. Attending on behalf of AstraZeneca were the General Manager for the Southern Cone, Agustín Lamas, the Market Access and Corporate Affairs Director in Argentina and Uruguay, Dr Germán de la Llave, and the Medical Director for the Southern Cone, Dr Agustina Elizalde.