CARACAS, Venezuela, Aug 2, 2021 (Reuters) – Venezuela will receive 6.2 million doses of coronavirus vaccines through the COVAX initiative “in the coming days,” President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday, potentially speeding up an inoculation campaign well behind regional peers.

The announcement comes after the GAVI alliance, which co-runs the facility along with the World Health Organization (WHO), said in early July that COVAX had received payments from the South American country after Venezuelan officials said some payments were blocked by a bank due to U.S. sanctions.

Maduro had given COVAX an “ultimatum” to send the doses or return the funds Venezuela has already paid.

Venezuela will receive doses of China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines through the initiative, according to the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the regional arm of the WHO. The country has so far been administering Sinopharm, Russia’s Sputnik-V, and Cuba’s Abdala vaccines.

The country of some 28 million inhabitants has reported 305,766 cases and 3,591 deaths, official data show. It had administered some 2.2 million doses as of July 14, according to PAHO. Reuters data show Venezuela has fully vaccinated 3.9% of the population, among the lowest rates in Latin America.

(Reporting by Caracas newsroom Writing by Luc Cohen Editing by Chris Reese)

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