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Bolivia signs contract with India's Serum Institute for 5 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses

Danny Ramos
·1 min read
FILE PHOTO: Vials of AstraZeneca's COVISHIELD, coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, are seen before they are packaged inside a lab at Serum Institute of India, Pune

By Danny Ramos

LA PAZ (Reuters) - The Bolivian government said on Wednesday it had signed a contract with India's Serum Institute for the supply of 5 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine.

President Luis Arce said that combined with a recent deal to buy 5.2 million Sputnik V vaccine doses from Russia, Bolivia now expected to be able to inoculate all of its vaccinable population.

Both vaccines require two doses to be given, meaning they would be used to inoculate a total of 5.1 million people from Bolivia's 11.51 million-strong population.

Bolivia has also signed an agreement through the global COVAX initiative, which is backed by the World Health Organization and seeks to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, to receive a further 3.6 million doses of a range of vaccines.

Bolivia, which has endured periods of political and social disruption since contested elections in 2019 saw longtime president Evo Morales leave office, has struggled to secure bilateral vaccine supply deals.

Arce said the first million AstraZeneca doses would arrive in Bolivia in April. The first 6,000 Sputnik doses are expected to arrive at the end of January.

Bolivia also took delivery of 650,000 of a promised 1.6 million consignment of COVID-19 tests from South Korea this week. The nasal antigen tests will allow Bolivia to roll out widespread testing for the disease for the first time since the pandemic broke out, potentially resulting in a spike in reported infection numbers.

On Tuesday, the health ministry reported 1,473 new cases, 176,761 cases in total and 9,454 dead.

(Reporting By Danny Ramos; Writing by Christian Plumb and Aislinn Laing; Editing by Daniel Flynn, Kirsten Donovan)