Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said he'll be the first to get vaccinated when a COVID-19 vaccine arrives in the country.
“I am pleased that Russia will be the first country in the world to vaccinate its population”, Maduro said in a televised speech on Sunday.
“There will be a time when we all get vaccinated, and the first to be vaccinated is me. I'm going to get the vaccine, I'm going to set an example”, he added.
Maduro said the government would then vaccinate healthcare workers, elderly people, and those with health conditions.
He went on to accuse the United States of blocking supplies of medicine to Venezuela, singling out Donald Trump's special envoy, Elliott Abrams.
“They persecute us”, he added. “We are going to buy medicines against the coronavirus and they persecute us, they call the company and tell them, ‘Don’t sell the vaccine to Venezuela’”.
Last Tuesday, Russia became the first country to register a vaccine against the coronavirus. The vaccine, called Sputnik V and developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya research institute, uses two strains of the adenovirus – which typically causes mild colds – to trigger an immune response.
Sputnik V promises to help people develop immunity against COVID-19 for two years. Health workers are the first to be vaccinated and a national roll-out is scheduled for January 2021.
Russia’s sovereign wealth fund (RDIF) said it had received preliminary applications for more than 1 billion doses of the vaccine from 20 countries
Sergei Melik-Bagdasarov, Russia’s ambassador to Venezuela, said last week that the Maduro government has shown interest in acquiring the vaccine.
He stressed, however, that it is too soon yet to name a specific timeframe for delivery because unilateral US sanctions stall the process.
Venezuela on Sunday reported 1,148 new coronavirus cases and 5 new deaths, bringing the total number of infected patients to 33,755 and the total death toll to 281, according to government figures.