Argentina’s president tests positive for coronavirus despite vaccination

By Daniel Politi

President Alberto Fernández of Argentina tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday and was experiencing mild symptoms despite having been vaccinated earlier this year, becoming the latest in a series of world leaders who have contracted the virus.

In a series of tweets sent early Saturday, Fernández said a “light headache” and a temperature of 99.1 degrees had prompted him to take a quick antigen test. Its positive finding was confirmed later Saturday by a more rigorous PCR test, said Dr. Federico Saavedra, the president’s physician.

Fernández’s symptoms were “mild due in large part to the protective effect of the vaccine,” Saavedra said.

The president, who first learned the preliminary result on Friday, his 62nd birthday, said he would remain in isolation. “I am physically well, and although I would have liked to end my birthday without this news, I’m also in good spirits,” the president wrote on Twitter.

Fernández joins a list of world leaders who have contracted the virus, including Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, Emmanuel Macron of France and Donald Trump of the United States, during the final months of his presidency.

But Fernández appears to be the first of those leaders to test positive for COVID-19 after having been fully vaccinated. He received the first dose of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine on Jan. 21 and the second dose on Feb. 11.

Russia’s Gamaleya Institute, which developed Sputnik V, wished the president well in a statement and said that while the vaccine has an efficacy rate of 91.6%, it is fully effective in preventing critical cases.

“The vaccination ensures quick recovery without severe symptoms,” the institute wrote in a statement on Twitter. “We wish you a quick recovery!”

Word of Fernández’s test results comes shortly after Argentina tightened its borders amid an upsurge of COVID-19 infections. Several neighboring countries, particularly Brazil, are experiencing a sharp increase in cases as new, more contagious variants of the virus engulf the region.

Argentina recently canceled all direct flights with Brazil, Chile and Mexico in an effort to block the new strains.

Argentina was the first country in Latin America to approve the use of the Sputnik V vaccine in late December, but mass inoculations are taking longer than the government had initially predicted amid a global shortage of the vaccine. It has also been administering China’s Sinopharm vaccine and Covishield, the Indian version of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Of the nation’s 45 million people, 683,771 have received two vaccine doses, and there have been 4.18 million doses injected overall.

Argentina said on March 26 it would delay applying the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for three months in an effort to ensure as many people as possible get at least one dose. The country has reported nearly 2.4 million COVID-19 infections and more than 56,000 deaths.

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