Bolivia's Arce to take Russia's Sputnik V vaccine in show of confidence

FILE PHOTO: Bolivia's President Luis Arce speaks during a signing ceremony of an agreement with Russia for supplying 2.6 million doses of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in La Paz, Bolivia, December 30, 2020. Courtesy of Bolivian Presidency/Ricardo Carvallo/Handout via REUTERS

LA PAZ (Reuters) - Bolivian President Luis Arce will take the Russian Sputnik V vaccine to protect himself from the coronavirus later this month when the country kicks off its vaccination program, his spokesman said on Thursday.

Russian sovereign fund RDIF said on Dec. 30 it had agreed to supply Bolivia with enough of its two-dose Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to immunize 2.6 million people. An initial shipment of the vaccine is expected to arrive in the Andean nation in late January.

“The president is going to be vaccinated,” spokesman Jorge Richter told a local television channel. “It is a sign of confidence in the vaccination process that we are carrying out.”

Cases of the coronavirus in Bolivia have spiked since the end-of-year holidays, overwhelming hospitals. Earlier this week, former Bolivian President Evo Morales tested positive for COVID-19.

Morales, who is in a clinic in Bolivia, said on Thursday that the governments of Argentina, Cuba and Venezuela had offered him treatment, according to an interview on local radio.

Reporting by Danny Ramos; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Peter Cooney