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Argentine officials hail COVID-19 vaccine production, urge public to remain cautious

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-08-14 10:38
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Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez gestures during the announcement that Argentina and Mexico will produce and distribute an experimental coronavirus vaccine at the Olivos Presidential residence, in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Aug 12, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

BUENOS AIRES - A COVID-19 vaccine developed by Britain's Oxford University is to be produced for Latin America by Argentina and Mexico, generating high hopes and pride, said Argentine officials, who also cautioned the public on Thursday to keep protecting themselves against the disease.

"We are elated because we will have (vaccine) availability soon and the price will be very accessible, and because we are proud to be local manufacturers," Argentinean Health Minister Gines Gonzalez said.

However, in an interview with a local radio station in Buenos Aires, Gonzalez said that people should not let down their guard, because the results of phase three studies and regulatory approvals of the vaccine are still pending.

"There is no other better alternative at this time than to continue to take care of ourselves and comply with the (safety) measures, so we have a controlled evolution" of outbreaks, he said.

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez announced Wednesday that the South American country will, along with Mexico, produce the vaccine developed by Oxford and British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

The initiative, which seeks to supply the region with some 150 million doses as of the first half of 2021, "is news that fills us with pride and satisfaction," said Carla Vizzotti, the Argentine Health Ministry's health access secretary.

Still, "today it is necessary to continue taking care of ourselves," she added.

According to the Argentine government, of the total production of the vaccine, some 22.4 million doses will be earmarked for healthcare workers, the elderly and people in high risk groups.

Argentina, which registered its first case of COVID-19 on March 3, reported a total of 268,574 confirmed cases and 5,246 deaths as of Thursday.

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