Maduro says Venezuela will soon receive Russia's single-dose Sputnik Light vaccine

·2-min read
A handout photo shows samples of Sputnik Light COVID vaccine

CARACAS (Reuters) - President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday the single-dose Russian Sputnik Light vaccine will soon arrive in Venezuela as the country struggles with rising cases of coronavirus.

Russia has authorized the use of the Sputnik Light version of its COVID-19 vaccine, a move that could help vaccine supplies go further in countries with high infection rates.

"In May vaccination will accelerate and have widespread growth and June, July and August will be the months of a vaccination offensive," Maduro said in a live broadcast on state television.

Venezuela is aiming for 70% of its population to be vaccinated by August, he added.

The country, with a population of about 30 million, has received 1.4 million vaccines from Russia and China, according to the health ministry.

The Maduro government made a first payment of $64 million dollars to enter the World Health Organization's (WHO) Global Access Fund for COVID-19 Vaccines or COVAX which provides vaccines to poorer nations. It has rejected doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine, citing side effects.

The Pan American Health Organization said it had indications that the second payment for COVAX was in process.

The president of Venezuela's Congress and former minister Jorge Rodriguez recently told Reuters that Venezuela is interested in acquiring the Johnson & Johnson vaccine under the COVAX scheme, but they were waiting for more information about its side effects.

During the broadcast Maduro mentioned and described the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as "quite good," and it is also a single dose, but did not specify whether the country would receive it.

The South American nation has registered 209,162 cases of the coronavirus and 2,304 deaths in the pandemic, although critics argue the real figures are likely higher due to lack of testing and transparency.

(Reporting by Sarah Kinosian; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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