The National Administration of Drugs, Food and Medical Technology (ANMAT) approved the first COVID-19 vaccine entirely developed in Argentina: the “ARVAC Cecilia Grierson.”
Developed by the National University of San Martín, the National Council of Scientific and Technological Research (CONICET), and the Cassará Lab, the vaccine has proven to be safe and effective as a booster against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in people over 18.
The ARVAC Cecilia Grierson — named after the first Argentine woman to receive a medical degree from Buenos Aires University — is already being produced in the Cassará manufacturing plant in Buenos Aires City and can be adapted to new variants of SARS-CoV-2 circulating in the region.
According to a press release by the Health Ministry, the development of the vaccine was the result of a public-private consortium that involved more than 600 scientists and professionals, 25 institutions and over 2,000 volunteers.
“This is a historic day,” said Daniel Filmus, Argentina’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation at a press conference in the Scientific-Technologic Node in Buenos Aires.
“It’s a landmark for Argentine science and technology after three years of very hard work and a lot of investment by the state,” he added, highlighting the need for government involvement in scientific research.
According to Filmus, the vaccine will be available for the local market and also exported abroad. “Argentina imports 500 million dollars in vaccines every year so this will be a huge step in terms of import substitution,” he said.
“It was very important for us that the vaccine could be produced in our region,” said Juliana Cassataro, the leading research scientist of the CONICET team that developed the vaccine. This was echoed by President Alberto Fernández who said on X (formerly Twitter) that “we will no longer need to knock on the doors of the powerful to get vaccines and save our people.”
Cassataro emphasized that it was important for the new vaccines to be used as a booster for previous vaccines the Argentine population has been inoculated with.
“We needed to be able to modify the antigen since people need a booster every year, or year and a half because of the virus mutations,” said Cassataro.
“The virus is here to stay, and we will need periodic boosters like the common flu,” said Carla Vizzoti, the country’s Minister of Health. “It is so important that we have this chance of having a safe, effective, and quality resource, and that we can substitute imports and export the vaccine.
“Our science, our technology, our local industry, our researchers, are all something to be proud of.”