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‘Oil for vaccines,’ offers Venezuela’s Maduro as Covid bites

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Handout photo released by the Venezuelan Presidency of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro speaking during a televised message at Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas on March 28, 2021. – Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday offered “oil for vaccines” against covid-19, amid a new wave of the pandemic in the oil-rich country and financial sanctions from the United States. (Photo by JHONN ZERPA / Venezuelan Presidency / AFP) /

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday offered “oil for vaccines” as his country, which is under economic sanctions affecting the oil sector in particular, faces a second wave of coronavirus.

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“Venezuela has the oil tankers, it has customers ready to buy oil from us. It would devote part of its production to obtain the vaccines it needs. Oil for vaccines!” said Maduro during an appearance on public television.

Venezuela has so far only authorized the use of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and the one produced by Chinese company Sinopharm.

On March 15, Venezuela informed the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) that it would not accept the AstraZeneca vaccine, despite having ordered between 1.4 and 2.4 million doses of it through Covax, the initiative aimed at ensuring an equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines.

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None of those vaccines have yet been delivered to Venezuela due to outstanding debts it has with the WHO.

Venezuela began vaccinating health workers in February but has released few details about its immunization program.

According to official figures, strongly questioned by the opposition and NGOs, Venezuela has registered around 150,000 coronavirus cases and a little under 1,500 deaths.

Authorities, though, have become concerned recently about a rise in infections and the appearance of the highly contagious Brazilian strain of the virus.

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