Venezuela immunizes its population against COVID-19 with Cuban vaccine

Last week, Venezuela signed an agreement with Cuba for the purchase of 12 million doses of Abdala, just three days after the country announced and celebrated the success of its locally developed anti-COVID-19 vaccine

July 02, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Despite the harsh US sanctions, about 11% of the Venezuelan population has been vaccinated. Photo: Venezuelan Ministry of Health/Twitter

Venezuela began immunizing its population against COVID-19 with Cuba’s Abdala vaccine on June 28. The first batch of 30,000 doses of the vaccine arrived in the country’s capital, Caracas, on June 24. The same day, during the XIX Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – People’s Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP), President Nicolas Maduro reported that his government signed a contract with the Cuban government for the purchase of 12 million doses of Abdala.

Abdala, one of Cuba’s five anti-COVID-19 vaccine candidates, showed 92.28% efficacy during the third phase of clinical trials, which is the fourth highest efficacy in vaccines developed worldwide so far. Abdala requires three doses per person, which are administered at an interval of two weeks. It induces maximum immunity within 42 days after the application of the first dose. The vaccine also showed efficacy against the mutant strains of the coronavirus that are spreading across the Latin American and Caribbean region.

The agreement between the two nations will facilitate the immunization of 4 million Venezuelans. The vaccine will be gradually delivered to the country between July and October.

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez, while receiving the first batch of vaccines, thanked Cuba, its government and its people for their support in the tough times. “Venezuela, from the depths of its soul, thank the people of Cuba, its president Miguel Díaz-Canel, his government and our comrades who accompany us in this daily battle against COVID-19,” she said.

Cuban ambassador to Venezuela, Dagoberto Rodríguez, ratified the cooperation of his country in the face of the pandemic. “We continue in the struggle for the health of our people and have a deep political will to do more every day to strengthen these ties between Venezuela and Cuba,” he said.

Venezuela began inoculating its healthcare workers and other priority sectors against COVID-19 on February 18 with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. In February, the Bolivarian government purchased 10 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine. On June 1, it launched a mass vaccination campaign for the rest of the population with Sputnik V vaccines and 100,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines received in donation from China. On June 5, the government signed a deal to buy 10 million doses of Russia’s EpiVacCorona vaccine.

The government also bought 11 million doses of vaccine through the WHO’s COVAX initiative. However, the delivery of those vaccines was blocked due to the commercial, economic and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Venezuela.

On June 12, the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) blocked the last four installments of the payment made by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela towards the COVAX mechanism, due to the US coercive measures. After a global outcry, on June 17, the US government suspended part of the sanctions against Venezuela and lifted the penalties to companies that carry out transactions with the Venezuelan state related to combatting COVID-19.

Despite the US criminal sanctions against Venezuela and decades long embargo against Cuba, and the losses of billions of USD, both the socialist countries are successfully fighting the pandemic.

According to the official data, Cuba maintains a recovery rate of 91.2%, with a total of 190,993 cases and 1,284 deaths from the disease. Likewise, Venezuela has a recovery rate of 93.1%, with 272,721 cases and 3,119 deaths.

Both Cuba and Venezuela have announced to vaccinate their entire population of over 11 million and 28 million people, respectively, for free. Cuba aims to inoculate 100% of its population and Venezuela hopes to vaccinate 70% of its population by the end of the year.

Cuba began its vaccination drive on May 12. According to the Cuban Public Health Minister, as of June 29, 2,758,893 Cubans have received at least one dose of one of its vaccines. Meanwhile, 2,060,212 people have received a second dose and 1,169,638 people have received a third dose. Similarly, according to the Venezuelan Ministry of Health, about 11% of the Venezuelan population has been vaccinated.

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