South American football to receive 50,000 doses of vaccine

SAO PAULO (AP) — Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac will donate 50,000 doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to South American football confederation CONMEBOL in a bid to protect players for upcoming tournaments.

CONMEBOL announced that the jabs will be used to inoculate players ahead of the Copa America in June and for other regional tournaments.

“This is a huge step forward to beat the COVID-19 pandemic, but it doesn’t mean that we will in any way relax,” CONMEBOL President Alejandro Domínguez said in a statement.

The football body said it is the first confederation to obtain a vaccine for widespread immunisation, but it gave no details about who will get the vaccines and when.

Uruguay President Luis Lacalle Pou, who worked as mediator, “was crucial for the completion of a deal of great importance for South American football”, CONMEBOL said.

Domínguez thanked Sinovac “for understanding that football is a fundamental activity for the economy, the culture, and the physical and mental health of South Americans”. However, Chinese officials have said they’re looking for ways to boost the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines.

South America is now the epicentre of the pandemic with cases, hospitalisations and deaths on the rise. Brazil’s death toll, second only to the United States’, is quickly approaching 360,000. The country’s seven-day average number of deaths hit a new record on Monday at 3,124.

A CONMEBOL worker stands guard on the pitch at the ‘Defensores del Chaco’ Stadium. PHOTO: AP