Paraguay inks deal with two drug companies for 3 million vaccine doses - health minister

FILE PHOTO: Paraguay's Health Minister Julio Mazzoleni speaks to the media during a news conference where he announced that Paraguay has registered its first confirmed case of coronavirus, in Asuncion, Paraguay, March 7, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Adorno

ASUNCION (Reuters) - Paraguay signed agreements with two pharmaceutical companies to buy 3 million doses of coronavirus vaccines and plans to start vaccinations in the second half of February, Public Health Minister Julio Mazzoleni said on Friday.

The names of the firms will be released in the coming days when the contracts are signed, the minister added. The country plans to purchase another 4.2 million doses through the COVAX mechanism of the World Health Organization.

Paraguay has registered 125,518 cases of coronavirus and 2,570 deaths associated with COVID-19 so far, according to ministry data. The government says the vaccination plan will prioritize health workers and those over 60 years of age.

Last week Paraguay approved emergency use of the Sputnik V vaccine, Russia’s RDIF sovereign wealth fund reported.

Argentina, Venezuela and Bolivia have also approved the use of Sputnik V, which was developed by the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow.

Reporting by Daniela Desantis, writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Edmund Blair, Kirsten Donovan