Vaccine and syringe

Head of country’s academy of medicine issues warning with less than 1% of population having received a dose

Workers handle a shipment of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in Caracas, Venezuela, in March.
Workers handle a shipment of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in Caracas, Venezuela, in March. Photograph: Manaure Quintero/Reuters
Reuters in Caracas

Venezuela’s slow rate of vaccination for Covid-19 means it could take up to 10 years for the country to be fully vaccinated, the president of the nation’s academy of medicine said on Monday.

Venezuela, with about 30 million inhabitants, has received 1.4m vaccines from China and Russia, according to its health ministry. Authorities hope to receive enough doses for about 5 million people from the World Health Organization’s Covax system.

The government has not announced how many people have received the vaccine.

Venezuela has administered at least 250,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines, with less than 1% of the population having received a first dose, according to Reuters vaccine tracker.

Since the first Covid-19 infections were announced in March of last year, authorities have announced 215,301 cases and 2,396 deaths from Covid-19, increased by a second wave this past March.

But Dr Enrique López-Loyo, president of Venezuela’s National Academy of Medicine, said specialists from the independent institution and international studies calculate the official figure should be multiplied by eight or 10 due to the country’s low test rate.

‘They think they’ll be left to die’: pandemic shakes already fragile Venezuela

 

By the end of 2020, some 2,500 to 3,000 tests were being done each day in Venezuela, he said, comparing it with other South American countries such as Chile or Colombia, where about 30,000 to 50,000 daily tests were reported.

“No system of [quarantine] relaxation or restriction is perfect,” López-Loyo said, referring to President Nicolas Maduro’s quarantine plan that alternates between “flexible” weeks, during which it is easier to enter stores and move around, and “radical” weeks, marked by more closed businesses and more strict checkpoints.