Venezuela election candidates should get Russian vaccine: Maduro


Caracas (AFP)

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has proposed giving the first batch of a Russian coronavirus vaccine to candidates in upcoming legislative elections, which are being boycotted by the main opposition parties.

Moscow announced in August it had developed the world's first vaccine against the novel coronavirus, named "Sputnik V," and South American ally Venezuela said it would take part in clinical trials.

Maduro said the first delivery of the Russian vaccine was due later this month and proposed it be given to nearly 15,000 candidates campaigning for the December 6 elections.

"I am going to ask the vice president to talk to the National Electoral Council to see if it is possible to give the Russian vaccine to the 14,400 candidates who have registered," Maduro said in Caracas late Tuesday.

The president said it would be a "good idea" to give the vaccine to candidates so they can campaign door-to-door "in a safe manner."

He said a second delivery of vaccine doses was due in October.

Leading opposition parties have vowed to boycott the elections over claims that is rigged in favor of Maduro's ruling Socialist Party.

Venezuela is in the seventh year of a political and economic meltdown blamed on mismanagement and corruption by the Maduro government, leading to widespread shortages and mass emigration.

The country has more than 55,000 cases of Covid-19, with more than 440 deaths, according to official figures, though human rights groups believe the figures to be much higher.