Top Mexico health official in Argentina to discuss Russia's Sputnik vaccine

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A medical worker fills a syringe with Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) vaccine as she prepares to vaccinate a Russian Army service member at a clinic in the city of Rostov-On-Don, Russia December 22, 2020. REUTERS/Sergey Pivovarov/File Photo

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MEXICO CITY, Jan 7 (Reuters) - A top Mexican health official has traveled to Buenos Aires to discuss COVID-19 vaccines with Argentine President Alberto Fernandez, whose government has begun administering Russia's Sputnik V to hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers.

Citing "reasons of urgency," Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday said the official would enquire about Argentina's experience with the Russian vaccine, including any adverse reactions, to see whether Mexico could also acquire it.

"We need to vaccinate and to have sufficient vaccines," he said at a news conference.

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Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell traveled with foreign ministry official Efrain Guadarrama to exchange information about "distinct vaccine initiatives," Guadarrama had said on Twitter.

Argentina's government said in a statement the Mexican officials requested information about Sputnik V during the meeting, since Mexico "is interested in acquiring it."

The officials also discussed "the strategic agreement signed between both countries to produce and distribute the (vaccine) developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, which is produced in Argentina," the statement said.

Both Argentina and Mexico have authorized the use of the AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccine. They plan to manufacture it jointly for distribution in Latin America. Mexico has said shots will be given from March.

Mexico has several COVID-19 vaccine agreements, including with Chinese company CanSino Biologics (6185.HK) and the World Health Organization-backed COVAX scheme set up to deliver vaccines to developing countries.

To date, Mexico has administered 53,185 doses to healthcare workers using Pfizer's (PFE.N) vaccine, the only one available in the country so far.

Argentina on Christmas Eve began vaccinating healthcare workers using 300,000 doses of Sputnik V, the only vaccine it is so far administering.

Mexico had one of its biggest daily rises in coronavirus cases and COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday.

While Mexico was the first Latin American nation to start vaccinating residents against COVID-19, it is the nation in the region that has administered the fewest doses per 100 residents, according to website Our World in Data.

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Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Dan Grebler

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