Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. AFP
Venezuela hopes to produce two million doses per month of a Cuban coronavirus vaccine, President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday.
The South American country will also take part in Phase 3 trials for the Abdala vaccine produced by its socialist ally.
“We’ve signed an agreement to produce in our laboratories... two million vaccines a month of the Abdala vaccine... for August, September, approximately,” said Maduro in a television address.
Earlier in the week, the government claimed that it would have already purchased the 30 million vaccines it needs but for economic sanctions, led by the United States.
That brought a rebuke from opposition leader Juan Guaido, who accused the government of lying and blamed Maduro for Venezuela’s lack of vaccines.
Cuba has developed four vaccines that are in various stages of clinical trials.
The island nation has already started vaccinating its health care workers with its two vaccines still in the third phase of clinical trials.
One of those is Abdala, which is being given to 124,000 health care workers, while 48,000 volunteers are taking part in a parallel Phase 3 clinical study.
Should it be approved, Abdala would be the first Covid-19 vaccine entirely developed and produced in Latin America.
Venezuela’s vaccine rollout has been slow, with the country receiving just 250,000 Russian Sputnik V vaccine doses and half a million from China’s Sinopharm to date.
Maduro said his government would also sign deals to produce vaccines “with Russia, with China and with other countries.”
The government said it had paid just over half of the amount it needs to acquire 11.3 million doses through the World Health Organization’s Covax mechanism.
Officially, the country of 30 million has had 175,000 cases and some 1,700 deaths, but observer groups such as Human Rights Watch question the numbers, which they say are likely vastly underestimated.
Maduro in January described Carvativir, an oral solution derived from thyme, as a “miracle” medication that neutralizes the coronavirus with no side effects, a claim doctors say is not backed by science.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday the administration of President Donald Trump was prepared to take military action to stem the crisis in Venezuela.
A Russian air force plane that landed in Venezuela is there to service Russian military equipment already in the country, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Tuesday, according to the Interfax news agency.
Fire officials say about 15 people were on the deck of a beach house on the 20500 block of Pacific Coast Highway on Saturday when it gave way, dropping them onto the large rocks below.
"As vaccine supply continues to improve and vaccination capacity gets enhanced in all federating units, we continue to expand the categories of those who are eligible to get vaccinated," Umar said on Twitter.
Their Highnesses Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates have also congratulated Sheikh Khalifa, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid and Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed, on the advent of Eid Al Fitr.