Nicaragua in talks to acquire Russia's Sputnik V COVID vaccine, says PAHO

FILE PHOTO: A medical worker fills a syringe with Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) vaccine as she prepares to vaccinate a Russian Army service member at a clinic in the city of Rostov-On-Don, Russia December 22, 2020. REUTERS/Sergey Pivovarov/File Photo

MANAGUA (Reuters) - Nicaragua is in talks with Russia’s Gamaleya Institute to acquire the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.

The poor Central American nation is among the Latin American countries with least vaccines pre-ordered to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

“Nicaragua is negotiating with the Russian laboratory Nikolay Gamaleya to acquire the...Sputnik V vaccine,” said Jarbas Barbosa, PAHO’s assistant director, during an online news conference. PAHO is the regional office of the World Health Organization

PAHO said that Nicaragua will also begin receiving vaccines through the COVAX facility coordinated by the World Health Organization to support lower-income countries as of March.

Managua’s Sputnik V talks adds to a flurry of interest from left-wing Latin American governments, with Mexico and Bolivia joining early-adopter Argentina in trying to lock down supplies of the Russian vaccine.

Mexican health authorities expect to make a decision this week on whether to authorize Sputnik V after getting access to clinical data, and are considering buying 24 million doses.

Nicaragua’s Vice President Rosario Murillo confirmed later on Wednesday that Nicaragua had begun to make arrangements to buy vaccines, but did not specify which ones.

“We know that there are four vaccines with greater than 90% efficacy ... we are fully in the process of signing purchase agreements as soon as possible,” said Murillo.

Reporting by Ismael Lopez; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and David Gregorio