WHO-backed COVAX donates first AstraZeneca vaccines to Nicaragua

Vials labelled with partially torn sticker "AstraZeneca COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine" are seen in front of a displayed German flag in this illustration taken March 15, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

MANAGUA (Reuters) - Nicaragua received a first batch of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses, health authorities said on Tuesday, touting the inoculations donated through the World Health Organization’s global vaccine-sharing COVAX program.

Officials with the World Health Organization’s Americas branch PAHO said COVAX had donated 135,000 doses and that Nicaragua would receive more shots through the COVAX mechanism at the end of March, but did not specify how many.

Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo said earlier on Tuesday the COVAX program had provided 137,000 doses.

In late February, Nicaragua received its first batch of vaccine doses from an initial donation of Russia’s Sputnik V product and has begun inoculating people with pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, kidney failure and cancer.

India has also already donated 200,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Nicaragua, and has agreed to deliver an additional 300,000 doses.

Global health experts are seeking to clear up questions about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine as around a dozen European countries have suspended its use over a possible heightened risk of blood clots.

Europe’s medicines regulator is investigating and is expected to release its findings on Thursday.

British health minister Matt Hancock said on Tuesday the AstraZeneca vaccine remained safe.

Reporting by Ismael Lopez; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by David Alire Garcia, Mark Heinrich and Richard Pullin