CARACAS (AFP) – Venezuela announced on Monday that it would not authorise AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, as the three largest European countries suspended their rollouts of the jab.
“Venezuela will not authorise the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the process of immunising our population due to complications” in vaccinated patients, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said on public television.
“Taking into account the technical difficulties, President Nicolas Maduro had decided… not to approve and not to license this vaccine in Venezuelan territory.”
Venezuela – which began its coronavirus vaccination campaign in February with Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Sinopharm jabs – had reserved between 1.4 and 2.4 million AstraZeneca doses through the Covax plan created by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the poorest countries.
None of those vaccines, however, has arrived due to Venezuela’s debt to the WHO.
Maduro recently asked the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to release USD300 million from the Bank of England that were blocked by sanctions imposed on Venezuela and its state oil company PDVSA in an attempt to oust the socialist leader from power.
Seven European countries, including France, Germany and Italy, paused their AstraZeneca rollouts on Monday, adding to the list of nations that have taken this step out of concern over side effects.