Below we highlight recent news in the Latin America region, focusing on Argentina, Colombia and Chile. Top stories cover the fight against COVID-19, economic uncertainty in the Mercosur region, and Latin American involvement in disease research.
Argentina to receive 45,000 virus detection tests as part of a bigger emergency fund
Argentina is slated to receive tests to detect COVID-19 thanks to an emergency fund approved by Mercosur. USD 16 million is being dedicated to the “Research, Education and Biotechnology for Health” project, with an additional USD 5.8 million specifically earmarked for virus detection tests. This Mercosur project is aimed at collaborating to help the region composed of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay to continue fighting the spread of coronavirus.
Uncertainty in the post-coronavirus economy in Latin America
Argentina’s government has recently withdrawn from external negotiations in Mercosur, Latin America’s regional block that, similarly to the European Union, provides commercial and trade benefits to its member countries. Ministers and economic leaders from around South America have expressed their dissatisfaction with Argentina’s decision. The already-delicate relations within Mercosur, particularly between Argentina and Brazil, have been strained further due to the pandemic. Economists argue that Mercosur is key to Argentina’s post-pandemic economic recovery.
Colombian medical cannabis company receives country’s first approval to begin launching CBD and THC products
Khiron Life Sciences Corporation, a Colombian medical cannabis firm, has announced it has been given the regulatory green light to begin manufacturing and selling pharmaceutical products based on cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in Colombia. Khiron is the first company in Colombia to be allowed to produce medical cannabis products, and aims to utilise them to treat anxiety, chronic pain, refractory epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease.
Chile making advances against COVID-19 with vaccine prototype and copper wire masks
Chile may have Latin America’s first coronavirus vaccine prototype ready in 2 months, joining the world race to combat the still-spreading virus. Scientists from the Millennium Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy (IMII) are working around the clock to formulate the vaccine, and have stated they believe they can have a prototype ready in as little as two months. Additionally, a Chile-based company is the only one manufacturing masks that utilise copper wire which serve as a strong barrier against bacteria and viruses.
Argentinian woman receives international distinction for commitment to rare disease research
On World Rare Disease Day in late February, 29 people from around the world were chosen for their dedication to fighting rare diseases. One such nomination went to Argentinean Luciana Escati Peñaloza, President of the Fundación Mas Vida de Crohn & Colitis Ulcerosa and Executive Director of the Argentine Federation of Rare Diseases (FADEPOF). Peñaloza was recognised for her commitment to collaboration as well as helping to promote research, awareness, inclusion, and rights for patients with rare diseases.
Argentina invited to take part in an international study of a new HIV vaccine
Adults between ages 18 and 60 who are at risk of contracting HIV in Argentina are prime candidates to participate in a new international study called MOSAICO. The study aims to bring together thousands of volunteers from Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Spain and the United States to test the efficacy of a preventive HIV vaccine developed by Janssen. Thanks to positive preliminary results, the vaccine is now ready to enter Phase III trials.