Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday issued an ultimatum to the Covax Program, which aims to ensure equitable access to covid-19 vaccines, ensuring the country pays for those vaccines but has not yet received them.
Maduro declared, on national television, “The Kovacs system failed. We did our part (…). We had to play the game, do magic to unlock the funds that were frozen,” explaining that his country paid $120 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) program without receiving anything.
He declared: “I have been given precise instructions (…) for us to act this week and give an ultimatum to the Covax system: either send us the vaccines or give us the money back.”
“If they give us back the money, we know where to buy [vacinas]. We have already discussed with international institutions. Enough mistakes.”
The controversy over the vaccines Venezuela says it purchased through the Covax program has been going on for several months.
According to previous statements by President Maduro, the United States withheld $10 million, the last payment made by his country to take advantage of Kovacs, due to US sanctions imposed on Venezuela to expel him from power.
The United States considers rival Juan Guaido the interim president of Venezuela and does not recognize Nicolas Maduro as the country’s legitimate president.
In the past three years, diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions to remove Maduro from power have multiplied, but to no avail.
In the context of vaccine shortages, Venezuela, which aims to vaccinate 70% of its 30 million population before the end of 2021, has been using the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine since February.
In early July, the government launched a vaccination campaign with Abdullah Cuban vaccine, after it announced at the end of June that it had signed a “supply contract” for 12 million doses of this vaccine, according to the laboratory that produces the vaccine. , with an efficiency of 92%.
Venezuela has recorded a sharp increase in SARS-CoV-2 infections since March, with 275,000 cases and more than 3,200 deaths, according to official figures whose veracity is disputed by the opposition.