Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced on Sunday that the government has made a second payment to the World Health Organization's (WHO) COVAX programme, which will enable the country's citizens to receive approximately 11 million COVID-19 vaccines.
A second wave of the pandemic has hit Venezuela, straining the country's still underfunded health system. The country's economic collapse has resulted in increasing food insecurity, according to Maduro, who also stated that the director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, had arrived for meetings with officials.
The government announced last week that it had paid $64 million to COVAX for a first batch of vaccines after arguing that US economic sanctions aimed at ousting Maduro were preventing it from doing so. The sum of the second payment was not specified by Maduro. "The funds are available. The vaccines will now be sent to Venezuela "Maduro said in a speech broadcast on state television.
For a population of about 30 million people, Venezuela has only received 800,000 doses of Russian and Chinese vaccines so far. Humanitarian organisations have long called for the government to allow the World Food Programme (WFP) into the country to help alleviate poverty, something Maduro has resisted. Maduro said Beasley was in town to "sign deals," but he didn't elaborate. A request for comment from the WFP was not immediately returned. The opposition and doctors' groups warn that the true toll is likely higher due to a lack of testing. Venezuela has registered about 180,000 coronavirus cases, with 1,800 deaths.