CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela will receive the first 100,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine next week, President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday.
“When the vaccination process begins we will vaccinate all medical personnel, all health personnel in Venezuela, the most vulnerable sectors,” Maduro said during a live broadcast. “And then we will vaccinate teachers, educators.”
Maduro has previously said the South American country will receive 10 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine.
An official with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)said last week that between 1.4 million and 2.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine had been reserved for Venezuela and could arrive by the end of February, but Caracas would have to pay for them by Feb. 9.
Maduro did not immediately say whether the payment had been made. His allies in recent weeks have said Venezuela cannot pay because of sanctions imposed on Maduro’s government, which has overseen economic and social collapse.
PAHO did not respond to a request for comment as to whether the payment had been made.
PAHO had previously said that Venezuela would not be able to participate in the World Health Organization-led COVAX program due to a lack of timely payments by the government.
Venezuela needs to pay more than $100 million to get access to vaccines through COVAX that allocates access to shots for poorer countries, according to estimates by diplomats familiar with the situation.
PAHO said last month Venezuela had used only 1% of the coronavirus tests it had received, and Venezuela’s opposition said Maduro had not honored deals to distribute equipment and tests.
(Reporting by Vivian Sequera and Deisy Buitrago in Caracas; Writing by Luc Cohen and Sarah Kinosian; editing by Grant McCool)