As more and more countries in Latin America place orders for the Sputnik V vaccine made in Russia, questions are being raised over whether the snub is a sign of the United States’ waning influence in the region.
As many as six countries in the region – Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Venezuela – have already placed orders for the Russian vaccine, with several more launching negotiations with Moscow.
Colombia, which often criticized Russia, and President Vladimir Putin in particular, is now pleading with Russia to deliver its vaccine.
Sputnik was in fact the first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved by a government in the world. Initially, everyone doubted its efficacy. But everything changed dramatically earlier this month when the British medical journal, The Lancet, published a positive review of the vaccine.
American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has also delivered vaccines to most of the countries across Latin America, but its vaccine is expensive and difficult to store. More than anything else, Pfizer cannot meet the needs of the region.
One dose of Sputnik costs just $10, roughly half the price of the Pfizer vaccine, which costs $19.50. In addition, it can be stored at a temperature of 2 to 8°C.
Latin America has historically been an ally of Washington, but, with the pandemic wreaking havoc, governments in the region are pushing ideals to the side. Argentina has already placed an order for up to 25 million doses of the Sputnik vaccine, with other countries following suit.