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Guatemala received today the first 50,000 doses of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V out of a total of eight million acquired to speed up the national immunization plan against COVID-19.
Foreign Minister Pedro Brolo, Health Minister Amelia Flores, and the Chargé d'Affaires of the Russian Embassy in Guatemala, Larissa Planchinda, supervised the shipment's arrival at the capital's La Aurora airport and ensured its safekeeping at an appropriate temperature at the National Biological Center.
The arrival of Sputnik V takes place in the midst of a media campaign against the Government regarding the legitimacy of the negotiations and doubts about the efficacy of the product developed by the company Gamaleya, especially after denunciations made by the media outlet Elperiódico.
In this sense, Brolo detailed to the press each step of the purchase process and its follow-up both by the Foreign Ministry and by President Alejandro Giammattei, who on April 29th communicated with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to express his concern about the delays in the delivery of the product.
The Foreign Affairs Minister pointed out that on February 4 of this year, the confidentiality agreement was signed between the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance (Mspas) and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (Frid). At the center of the controversy were leaks of the agreement to the media in Guatemala.
Likewise, on March 30, Frid transferred to Mspas, with a copy to the Guatemalan embassy in Russia, the supply agreement signed by the subsidiary Human Vaccine.
On April 6, Brolo explained, there was notification of the deposit made by the Ministry with 50 percent of the total value of the 16 million doses acquired (around 79 million 600 thousand dollars), which will cover eight million Guatemalans.
"The @SATGT is part of the inter-institutional work with @MinSaludGuate, @MinexGt, @COMBEXIM for the expedited process of customs clearance of the first batch of Sputnik V vaccines that arrived in Guatemala with the objective of preventing COVID-19."
For her part, Flores reassured the population about the vaccine, "of excellent quality and used in many countries of the world."
Planchinda also clarified that its price is the same for all but varies depending on logistics and stressed that Human Vaccine is the state company, legal, and authorized to sign all contracts with the Russian government.
Faced with pressures to submit the batch of vaccines for laboratory examination, Flores ruled out doing so at this time and asked those who had doubts, with a scientific basis, to submit their request in writing.
For several days, the Ministry has been promoting on its Twitter account that Sputnik V does not contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, nor its complete genome, and defends its effectiveness with two doses at 21-day intervals.
Yesterday, the Mspas opened phase two of vaccination against COVID-19 with people over 70 years of age as part of its national plan, aiming to reach no less than 200,000 adults.