The dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, asked this Sunday (4) the Covax mechanism, coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO), to send vaccines against Covid-19 to the country or return the money paid, according to him, after verifying that the organ “failed” for not having given any dose yet.
“Either they send us the vaccines or give us the money back, but enough of the mockery against the people of Venezuela. There’s someone’s hand there so that the vaccines don’t reach Venezuela,” Maduro said in a speech on state broadcaster VTV .
He asked his vice president, Delcy Rodríguez, to contact Covax this week and transmit the “ultimatum” because, according to him, the country paid for the vaccines “two months ago”. “This money is in a Covax system bank account and the Covax system has failed Venezuela, I say this publicly: the Covax system has failed the people of Venezuela (…) and they don’t give us an answer,” he insisted.
On June 10, the Chavez regime said the Covax mechanism reported that about $10 million of the $120 million deposited by Venezuela for the purchase of doses of vaccines against Covid-19 were “locked in by an international bank and are under investigation”. On Sunday, Maduro said that after the relief of US sanctions for the acquisition of materials related to the pandemic, the money had been unlocked.
“So then we have (the payment) and this money is there in a bank account of the Covax system and the Covax system failed with Venezuela”, he insisted, saying that if the mechanism returns the money, they will resort to other entities to buy the doses of vaccines.
“If we recover the money, we will know where to buy, because we have already talked to global and multilateral institutions to do this,” he said.
Venezuela’s entry into the Covax mechanism has been controversial since its inception, in principle because the government denounced it could not pay for funds withheld due to US economic sanctions. In April, he indicated that he had obtained funds to fund the mechanism for which he expected 11,374,400 doses of vaccines. But at the time, the dictatorship said it did not want to receive the doses of AstraZeneca that had been reserved for the country because of concerns about blood clotting, a very rare side effect that the World Health Organization said was not enough to justify suspending its use. Now the country is expecting to receive doses of the vaccine from Janssen (Johson & Johnson) and Novavax.
Despite the humanitarian crisis, Venezuela is not eligible to receive free vaccines through Covax. The mechanism, through donations from rich nations, subsidizes doses to low- and lower-middle-income countries, following the classification of the World Bank. Venezuela, as it has not updated its official data since 2014, appears as an upper-middle-income country.
Vaccination figures for Venezuela are not reported. Doses of Sputnik V and Sinopharm are used in the country’s immunization campaign, and Cuban Abdala is also being integrated into the list of available vaccines, after the Chavez dictatorship closed, at the end of last month, an agreement with Cuba for the purchase of 12 million doses.
Venezuelan experts have warned that the Cuban vaccine is experimental and should not be used massively in the country. So far, according to the Cuban Medical Mission in Venezuela, 10,000 Venezuelans have been vaccinated with Abdala, which, according to the Castro dictatorship, is more than 90% effective.