South America’s Least-Vaccinated Country Gets First Covax Shots
(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela received the first shipment of vaccines against Covid-19 purchased through the World Health Organization-sponsored Covax program after months of delays and payment issues hindered the country’s inoculation plan.
The shipment of 693,600 Sinovac Biotech Ltd. shots arrived early Tuesday, the Pan American Health Organization said in statement on its website. The country is due to receive a total of 12 million doses through Covax, PAHO said. The first shipment was expected to arrive by the end of July but was delayed for reasons not publicly disclosed. In June, some government payments to Covax were temporarily blocked by banks, the government said at the time.
The secretary of the National Medicine Academy, Huniades Urbina, confirmed the shipment had arrived in an interview with Union Radio Tuesday. Venezuela’s vice president’s office, which manages Covid-19 response, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. And President Nicolas Maduro’s administration hasn’t publicized the arrival of the Sinovac vaccines.
Venezuela has the lowest vaccination rate in South America, according to PAHO data. A recent survey carried by academic experts showed that less than 12% of the population had been fully immunized. Government and opposition negotiators reached a deal on Monday to work together to address Covid, in one of the first agreements between the two sides as part of ongoing talks in Mexico City.
Maduro has vowed to triple vaccination rates to 300,000 doses administered per day using the Covax shots. The government’s plan is to immunize 70% of the population by October, although recent delays put that goal into question. The total number of vaccines received from Russia and China through bilateral agreements remains unknown.
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