President Alberto Fernández has been infected with Covid-19, the Peronist leader’s medical team has confirmed in a statement.
The Presidential Medical Unit said Saturday afternoon that the president’s PCR test for the novel coronavirus had come back positive, around 16 hours after Fernández first announced it was likely he had Covid-19.
The Peronist leader, who has been vaccinated against Covid-19, revealed that an antigen rapid test had come back positive just after midnight Friday and that he was awaiting confirmation via a PCR test.
“On Friday, April 2 of this year, the President of the Nation, Doctor Alberto Ángel Fernández, after having presented a temperature of 37.3° Celsius and headache, carried out an antigen determination test for Covid-19 which came back positive,” began the four-paragraph statement.
"With this situation, mandatory isolation measures were taken for the president and all close contacts of the same [person] in the 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms, as well as a PCR swab was carried out in order to confirm or rule out the disease,” the statement, signed by Dr Federico Saavedra, Fernández’s long-time personal doctor and member of his medical staff, continued.
The president, who turned 62 one day ago, is currently in isolation at the Olivos presidential residence. His partner, First Lady Fabiola Yáñez, 39, reported on social media that her antigen test came back negative.
The Peronist leader was inoculated with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine on January 21, and had his second shot on February 11, sources in the presidency confirmed Friday.
Just a few hours before the PCR test came back, Fernández offered a local radio station an interview, during which he said he was “fine.”
He went on to hail the Sputnik vaccine, saying it was thanks to the jab that he was not feeling worse.
“I feel good. Yesterday I was the best, I was playing guitar. At night I had a strange headache, I took my fever and I had 37.3," Fernández told Radio AM750.
"Yesterday they did a quick test on me, in the course of the afternoon we will have a definitive result. But I feel fine. The doctor just left, he checked me. I have no troublesome symptoms," reassured the president.
"I have no idea how I got it [the virus]. I am someone who takes great care. If it weren't for the vaccine, I would be having a very bad time," he said.
CONICET experts supported the president’s view.
"With a dose of Sputnik V, only 20 percent will develop any symptoms after infection, mildly and without hospitalisation," Mario Lozano, a virologist with the state Council for Scientific and Technical Research of Argentina (CONICET), told reporters.
"What was expected of any citizen has happened. After an infection it is possible to become infected again, and after vaccination as well. We must be extremely careful, even if we are tired [of prevention]," agreed Alicia Cámara, a coronavirus specialist at the National University of Córdoba.
Sputnik V is 91.6 percent effective against infection and 100 percent against severe cases, the Russian Gamaleya Institute, which developed the vaccine, said in a reply to Fernández’s tweet in which he announced the antigen test result.