CARACAS – Venezuela’s leading medical academy has called on the United States to add the South American nation to its international donor list for millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines, despite a political freeze between the two countries.
Enrique Lopez-Loyo, president of the Politically Independent National Academy of Medicine, made the request to U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela James Story at a meeting on May 2, the academy said in a statement Monday.
“To control the pandemic in our country, we need to vaccinate around 70% of the adult population, or nearly 15 million people, in as little time as possible,” the academy said in a statement. “The quantity of vaccines arriving in Venezuela … is less than 10% of what Venezuela needs.”
Venezuela has received about 1.4 million vaccines from China and Russia, according to the health ministry, and hopes to receive doses for about 5 million people from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX program.
The academy is a member of the Venezuelan government round table developing a response to the coronavirus crisis for its 30 million inhabitants.
However, the academy’s advocacy for the U.S. supply of AstraZeneca PLC vaccines runs counter to the government’s refusal in March to allow the vaccine due to reports of blood clotting in some recipients.
The academy’s request also comes amid U.S. sanctions against Venezuela to protest the re-election of President Nicolas Maduro in 2018 in elections it, and many other countries, deem fraudulent. Venezuela blames Washington’s sanctions for its economic woes.
Story, appointed late last year, is based in Bogota, Colombia due to the relationship breakdown.
The academy said Story responded to its request, saying the United States values the academy’s independence and looks forward to working with all like-minded parties in finding a solution to this crisis. .
Venezuela’s information ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Venezuela has reported a total of around 209,000 cases of COVID-19, including some 2,300 deaths.
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