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Venezuela to give COVAX ultimatum to deliver coronavirus vaccines

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A man receives the first dose of the Cuban vaccine candidate Abdala against COVID-19, during a mass vaccination campaign at the Andres Blanco complex of Fuerte Tiuna in Caracas on June 30, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

President Nicolas Maduro has instructed government officials to push the COVAX system to either deliver the coronavirus vaccines that Venezuela has already paid for or return the money.

Maduro said on live TV on Sunday that Venezuelan officials had been told to "give the COVAX system an ultimatum: they send us the vaccines or they give us the money back, period."

COVAX is a worldwide initiative linked to the World Health Organization (WHO) founded with the purpose of facilitating equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines to all countries across the globe.

Maduro said the international body had failed to deliver the share of vaccines it promised to Venezuela. 

"The COVAX system has failed Venezuela," the president said.

Maduro said contacts with the vaccine alliance formerly known as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization were to no avail.

"They don't answer us," he said.

He said all pending payments had been made to the global vaccine-sharing scheme.

Venezuela received word from COVAX in June that the last four payments had been blocked by Swiss bank UBS.

The payments to cover the $120 million fee have already been made, Maduro said.

Harsh economic sanctions have been imposed by the United States on Venezuela in order to bring about regime change in the oil-rich Latin American country.

Earlier this year, Maduro stressed Venezuela’s good ties with Cuba and its participation in the process of making the Cuban-made coronavirus vaccine named Abdala.

Venezuelan health authorities, who had previously received vaccine shipments from Russia and China, received a shipment of the Cuban-made vaccine last week.

Havana, which has signed a deal to deliver 12 million doses of Abdala vaccines to Caracas, reported last month that the vaccine efficacy rate was over 92 percent.

Abdala vaccine requires 3 shots for immunity.       

Venezuela has recorded 277,635 cases of the novel coronavirus and 3,190 deaths, according to official data.

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