Argentina to get 4 million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in May after delays

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FILE PHOTO: Vials and medical syringe are seen in front of AstraZeneca logo in this illustration

By Nicolás Misculin

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina is set to receive 4 million doses of AstraZeneca Plc's coronavirus vaccine in May, the government said on Tuesday, after long delays to a deal struck late last year stoked tensions in the South American nation.

The country, which is battling a fierce second wave of COVID-19 infections, has vaccinated 9.2 million people so far out of a total population of close to 45 million. Only 1.4 million have received the full two doses.

"This will change the course of the second wave of the pandemic in Argentina," Health Minister Carla Vizzotti said in a statement shared by the government.

The vaccines are part of a deal Argentina struck last November for some 22.4 million doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

The vaccines were meant to be produced regionally by Argentine firm mAbxience and Mexican laboratory Liomont. The latter has faced production delays, which has raised tensions as governments struggle to ramp up inoculation programs.

Argentina also expects to receive 861,600 doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine this month through the COVAX program backed by the World Health Organization. The country has reported over 3.16 million cases of COVID-19 and 67,821 deaths linked to the virus.

The center-left Peronist government is hoping to speed up vaccinations to boost a faltering economy and improve its chances in midterm elections at the end of the year.

(Reporting by Nicolás Misculin; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Peter Cooney)

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