The Venezuelan authorities have announced the acquisition of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V for 10 million people. The aim is to achieve the first series of vaccinations during the first three months of 2021.
Announcing the signing of the agreement between Caracas and Moscow in a televised speech on December 29, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the vaccine would be available free of charge to the entire population. According to him, the agreement for the purchase of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V is the result of “several months of serious and responsible work” which should allow the vaccination of 10 million people.
He also thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for allowing the mass vaccination campaign in the country. “I thank President Putin for this important step towards the start of mass vaccination in Venezuela,” Maduro wrote on his Twitter page.
Tras meses de un trabajo serio y responsible con nuestros hermanos rusos, hoy firmamos el convenio para la adquisición de las primeras 10 million vacunas Sputnik V. Agradezco al Presidente Putin por este important paso para el inicio de la vacunación masiva in Venezuela. pic.twitter.com/GopeQ7uKe0
– Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) December 29, 2020
Venezuela became the first country in the Western Hemisphere to participate in clinical trials of the Russian vaccine, when the first doses of Sputnik V arrived in the country in October. President Maduro noted that the phase III trials had proven to be successful and that no adverse effects of the vaccine had been observed so far.
Vice-President Delcy Rodríguez, who participated in the signing of the contract, also called the vaccine “very safe” and promised to launch the vaccination campaign “as soon as possible”. “No criminal blockade will undermine the sacred right of our people to access the vaccine,” she tweeted, referring to US sanctions.
Gracias Rusia! Hemos suscrito el Contrato de suministro de la vacuna Sputnik V para el pueblo venezolano! Ningún bloqueo criminal socavará el derecho sagrado de nuestro pueblo para access the vacuna para controlar una de las pandemias más terrible que ha padecido la humanidad! pic.twitter.com/4kAkARheM8
– Delcy Rodríguez (@ drodriven2) December 29, 2020
Kirill Dmitriev, director of the Russian Sovereign Fund which funded the development of Sputnik V, said he hoped to start delivery of the vaccine without delay. He noted, however, that delivering the quantity of doses needed for such a vaccination campaign could take six months or more.