Bolivia signs deal with China´s Sinopharm for coronavirus vaccine

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LA PAZ (Reuters) - Bolivia said on Thursday it had inked an agreement with China´s Sinopharm locking in an initial supply of half a million doses of the company´s vaccine against coronavirus by the end of February.

Bolivian President Luis Arce said China’s President Xi Jinping had agreed to sell Bolivia 400,000 doses and had donated another 100,000 doses to the South American nation, among the poorest in the region.

Bolivia has been rocked by political and social upheaval since contested elections in 2019 saw longtime president Evo Morales leave office. It has lagged behind wealthier regional neighbors in securing bilateral vaccine supply deals.

The Andean nation has since signed agreements with Russia for its Sputnik V vaccine and India’s Serum Institute for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot. It has also signed a deal with the World Health Organization-backed COVAX initiative.

Bolivia´s Arce said the country “had a very good relationship” with China and that his counterpart Xi had promised the vaccines “would be delivered in February”.

Arce added that the vaccines which Bolivia had secured were now sufficient to “soon begin mass vaccination in the country”.

Bolivia has been hit in recent weeks by a fierce second wave of the virus that has brought its hospitals and cemeteries to the point of collapse. The country has reported 232,500 cases of the virus and 11,000 deaths to date.

Reporting by Danny Ramos; writing by Dave Sherwood; editing by Jason Neely