CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela on Sunday received a second batch of 2.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines via the COVAX mechanism, while the government said it hoped to reach immunity for 70% of Venezuelans by the end of the month.
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and Unicef representatives, as well as the Venezuelan government, were present at Maiquetia international airport outside Caracas to receive the doses.
As well as the doses supplied by COVAX, Health Minister Carlos Alvarado said Venezuela can also count on doses of Russian jab Sputnik V, the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, and Cuba’s Abdala vaccine to inoculate its population.
Venezuela now has more than 29 million vaccine doses, Alvarado said, adding the number would cover the vaccination of 70% of the population by the end of October.
Half of Venezuela’s population has been vaccinated https://tmsnrt.rs/3tUM8ta, according to the government, though academics and specialists say it is more likely closer to 21%.
The government for months said it had been unable to pay for the vaccines due to U.S. sanctions meant to force President Nicolas Maduro from power, but in April announced it had deposited most of the funds in a Swiss bank account.
The South American country received an initial batch of 693,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by China’s Sinovac Biotech in early September.
Venezuela expects to receive a total of 11 million doses through COVAX, overseen by the GAVI alliance and the World Health Organization.
New cases reported in Venezuela are at their highest peak since the pandemic started, according to a Reuters tally.
Venezuelan authorities have reported a total of 382,266 coronavirus infections and 4,606 deaths.
Reporting by Vivian Sequera Writing by Oliver Griffin Editing by Mayela Armas and Lisa Shumaker
Photo A man with a mask walks in front of a mural in Caracas, Venezuela. EPA-EFE/MIGUEL GUTIERREZ