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LATIN AMERICA | 18-02-2021 12:44

Venezuela to begin Covid immunisation programme with Sputnik V

President Nicolás Maduro announces healthcare workers, legislators, members of the Armed Forces and authorities will start to receive Covid-19 vaccines, with mass immunisation campaign is planned for April.

Venezuela will begin immunising health care workers and public sector employees on Thursday with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, President Nicolás Maduro announced on Wednesday.

Legislators, Armed Forces personnel and authorities "whose work in the streets justifies ... their special protection for the state to keep functioning" will be amongst the first to receive their vaccines, Maduro said.

A mass immunisation campaign for the general public will begin in April, he added.

The first 100,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine arrived in Caracas on Saturday, however there is no timetable for any further deliveries.

Venezuela has agreed to acquire 10 million doses of Sputnik V as well as reserving 1.4 million to 2.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford jab through the World Health Organization's Covax system.

But the Pan-American Health Organisation indicated on Wednesday that Venezuela needs to send an US$18-million deposit before it could start receiving the vaccine doses it has reserved.

Venezuela, which took part in Sputnik V clinical trials, has recorded almost 134,000 cases and just under 1,300 deaths from Covid-19 among its population of 30 million, according to official figures.

The opposition and human rights groups claim those figures are deliberately underestimated.

—TIMES/AFP

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