Some of the resources were placed under the control of Venezuela’s self-declared “Interim President” Juan Guaidó, who the US continues to recognize as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.
US allies have also applied similar asset freezes despite calls for sanctions relief to aid Venezuela’s efforts against the pandemic by a host of international organizations such as the UN Human Rights Council.
Last month, a groundbreaking government-Guaidó agreement was unveiled in which the opposition frontman committed to lobbying the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for the liberation of US $30.3 million in frozen Venezuelan assets.
The funds were supposedly destined for the purchase of 12 million COVAX vaccines, but it is unclear if Sunday’s higher-value deal is related to this agreement or comprises a separate deal.
Venezuela has acquired 11.3 million additional Covid-19 vaccines through the United Nations’ COVAX program.
The US $128 million deal was reportedly made possible after Caracas was able to “liberate” funds which had been blocked by Washington’s unilateral coercive measures.
Authorities have informed that an initial 50% down payment was made to the Switzerland-based GAVI Vaccine Alliance on Saturday, while the remaining monies are “guaranteed.”
To date, Venezuela has received 500,000 donated doses of China’s Sinopharm and has bought 10 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V, of which 250,000 have arrived. Healthcare, security and educational personnel have been prioritized for vaccination thus far.
The 11,374,000 COVAX doses will allow 20% of the population to be vaccinated, but no shipment date has been announced.
It is estimated that the country needs roughly 50 million doses to vaccinate its entire population, with the government pledging to immunize 70% by the end of the year.
It is equally unclear which vaccines will be supplied by COVAX. Venezuela has repeatedly refused to grant a license to AstraZeneca, one of COVAX’s main suppliers, quoting health risks.
For his part, Guaidó has led a campaign to revert this decision. COVAX also distributes vaccines offered by the US’ Pfizer/BioNTech.
Venezuela has likewise unveiled plans to start producing vaccines locally in collaboration with Cuba. Venezuela has agreed to participate in phase 3 clinical trials for the Cuban-made Abdala and Soberana 02 vaccines.
The announcement followed a high-level visit of Cuban medical personnel to Caracas’ Espromed Bio Factory last week, concluding that there are “sufficient conditions” to produce the island’s Abdala vaccine “as early as possible.”
While the world is bottled up in an abominable process of inequality concerning people’s access to vaccines, Cuba is an example of solidarity,” Vice President Delcy Rodríguez said from the factory.
The Abdala vaccine is expected to complete trials in July and be rolled out in August 2021.
The government additionally announced a series of economic measures last week in an attempt to alleviate the impact of the lock down.
A mayor from Yaracuy state came under fire last week after officials “marked” the houses of seven infected residents. Mayor Luis Duque later issued a public apology and reversed the policy, while the attorney general’s office launched an investigation.
Venezuela Analyses / ABC Flash Point News 2021.