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Sunday, May 29, 2022

Nicaragua thanks U.S. for pandemic donations, despite tense relations

Nicaragua on Thursday thanked the United States — with which it has a strained relationship — for donating a batch of 305,370 doses of Pfizer vaccines against covid-19 through the international Covax mechanism.

“We want to thank the 305,370 doses of Pfizer vaccines that this morning (Thursday) arrived in our blessed Nicaragua donated by the people and government of the United States,” said the vice president and first lady, Rosario Murillo.

The shipment was received at the Augusto Sandino International Airport, in Managua, by local authorities, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), US Ambassador Kevin Sullivan, and representatives of countries that also participate in Covax, a mechanism for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines to poorer countries.

Murillo thanked the US ambassador, whom the Ortega government has accused of “interference,” the countries that contribute to the Covax mechanism, and the efforts of the World Health Organization (WHO) and PAHO.

The vaccine donation occurs at times of high tension due to the sanctions recently imposed by the United States against those close to President Daniel Ortega, due to the arrest of almost 40 opponents — including seven presidential candidates — in recent months, prior to the November 7 elections.

“We know how they have suffered with the Covid-19 pandemic, just like the United States and other countries, and we want to be present to help protect people here in Nicaragua,” Sullivan said at the airport in the early hours of the morning.

Earlier this month, Nicaragua began immunizing more of its population with the Pfizer vaccine thanks to a loan of 100,000 doses from the Honduran government, according to official sources.

The country had not previously obtained Pfizer vaccines because it did not have the proper refrigeration infrastructure, but that was recently installed, according to health authorities.

Nicaragua, with 6.5 million inhabitants and one of the lowest vaccination rates in the region, accelerated its immunization plan in recent weeks, with a massive arrival of donated vaccines through Covax; from AstraZeneca; the Indian version of AstraZeneca (Covishield); the Russian Sputnik V and Sputnik Light; and the Cuban Soberana and Abdalá.

Thousands of Nicaraguans have also crossed the border into Honduras to get vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna because they distrust Russian and Cuban vaccines, which do not have the endorsement of the WHO.

Nicaragua has reported a total of 16,422 Covid-19 infections and 206 deaths since March 2020, but the Citizen Observatory, a network of independent doctors, counts at least 31,036 cases and 5,887 deaths likely caused by the disease.

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