Venezuela received 17 tons of materials and medical supplies donated by China on Monday, including a batch of 500,000 doses of the Vero Cell vaccine against the coronavirus, developed by the Chinese state company Sinopharm.
The shipment arrived around midnight at the Simón Bolívar international airport in Caracas.
In statements broadcast by state television, the vice president, Delcy Rodríguez, indicated that the donation is one more example of the close relationship of “friendship, brotherhood, cooperation between China and Venezuela” and will allow the education sector to be included in the process of vaccination that began on February 18, five days after the arrival of the first batch of 100,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.
The first to be immunized were health workers who “fight the virus on the front line in hospitals,” said Rodríguez.
As announced the day before by the president, Nicolás Maduro, the country will resume face-to-face classes in April. This will be done “under strict biosafety measures,” said the vice president, adding that in addition to teachers, members of the security forces will begin to be vaccinated.
Venezuelan authorities stressed that the Chinese vaccine can be transported and stored between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius (between 35 and 46 Fahrenheit).
Venezuela detected its first two cases of COVID-19 on March 13, 2020.
Through Twitter, Maduro thanked his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, and “the noble Chinese people, for their unwavering spirit of cooperation and solidarity towards our beloved Homeland.”
“The Chinese vaccine will reinforce the immunization process that we started in the country,” he added.
Venezuela, which has been part of the Sputnik V vaccine trials since October, signed a contract with Russia in December. The February shipment represents 1% of the total of 10 million doses initially agreed by Caracas and Moscow.
Maduro said that his government invested 200 million dollars in the purchase of those vaccines, which should be in the country in April, when a massive vaccination campaign is expected to begin.
In Venezuela, where the coronavirus has not hit as hard as in other South American countries, 139,500 cases and 1,348 deaths have been reported.
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