CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and first lady Cilia Flores have received their first dose of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, Venezuelan state television reported on Saturday, while the country received a second shipment of the vaccine.
Images of both Maduro and Flores receiving their doses were broadcast on state television. Maduro said he felt “fine” after receiving the injection.
“Across the world the studies say that the Russian vaccine is a great vaccine to generate immunity,” Maduro said. “We will guarantee all vaccines for the people of Venezuela.”
Later on Saturday, Venezuela’s Health Ministry said the second batch of 100,000 Sputnik V doses had arrived from Moscow via a flight operated by state airline Conviasa.
Venezuela had received the first 100,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine on Feb. 13. Maduro said authorities had administered around 60% of those doses, prioritizing medical personnel as well as officials and lawmakers in the first phase.
The South American country, home to some 25 million people, has invested $200 million to buy 10 million doses of the Russian vaccine.
The crisis-stricken OPEC nation also received 500,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine earlier this week. Maduro said the government would begin to inoculate Venezuelans with the Sinopharm vaccine beginning on Monday.
Venezuela has reported 141,356 cases of the novel coronavirus and 1,371 deaths, well below levels of its South American peers. Many opposition politicians and medical personnel question those statistics, saying the true toll is likely far higher due to a lack of testing.
Reporting by Deisy Buitrago and Corina Pons; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Diane Craft and Leslie Adler
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