Argentina set to receive first shipment of AstraZeneca vaccine from India Wednesday

BUENOS AIRES, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Argentina is set to receive 580,000 doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine from India’s Serum Institute on Wednesday, a government spokesperson said on Tuesday, bringing the country a step closer to launching a large-scale vaccination program.

Argentina has already received several shipments of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

The early Wednesday delivery of the shot will raise the country’s total vaccine count to nearly 1.8 million, according to a Reuters tabulation drawn from official sources.

The vaccine was developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University but produced by the Serum Institute, the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines.

Argentine health officials have said they will use the additional doses to finish vaccinating front-line healthcare workers, then begin inoculating security forces, teachers and the elderly.

Argentina surpassed 2 million coronavirus cases last week, and has logged more than 50,000 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

The nation hopes to initiate a large-scale vaccination program before the cool weather of the southern hemisphere autumn sets in, officials have said. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola, writing by Dave Sherwood Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)