Venezuela will not authorize AstraZeneca Covid vaccine

Caracas (AFP) –


Venezuela announced Monday that it would not authorize AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine, as the three largest European countries suspended their rollouts of the jab.

"Venezuela will not authorize the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the process of immunizing our population due to complications" in vaccinated patients, vice president Delcy Rodriguez said on public television.

"Taking into account the technical difficulties, President Nicolas Maduro had decided... not to approve and not to license this vaccine in Venezuelan territory."

Venezuela -- which began its coronavirus vaccination campaign in February with Russia's Sputnik V and China's Sinopharm jabs -- had reserved between 1.4 and 2.4 million AstraZeneca doses through the Covax plan created by the World Health Organization for the poorest countries.

None of those vaccines, however, has arrived due to Venezuela's debt to the WHO.

Maduro recently asked the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to release $300 million from the Bank of England that were blocked by sanctions imposed on Venezuela and its state oil company PDVSA in an attempt to oust the socialist leader from power.

Seven European countries, including France, Germany and Italy, paused their AstraZeneca rollouts Monday, adding to the list of nations that have taken this step out of concern over side effects.

The move is a blow to the global vaccination campaign and comes despite the WHO's assurances about the safety of the vaccine.

The WHO will convene its expert group Tuesday to study the vaccine's safety, but the organization's chief scientist has already recommended the jab's continued use.

The Netherlands suspended its AstraZeneca rollout Sunday, as well as Ireland, after a report from Norway of four new cases of serious blood clots in vaccinated adults.