UPDATE 2-Bolivia signs its first major agreement on Sputnik 5 vaccine in Russia

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(Updates with confirmation of RDIF dosage)

By Vladimir Soldatkin and Danny Ramos

MOSCOW / LA PAZ, December 30 (Reuters) – Russian sovereign wealth fund, Russia’s Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), has agreed to supply Bolivia with enough of its two-dose Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to vaccinate 2.6 million people, RDIF announced on Wednesday. the South American nation’s first major vaccine deal.

RDIF said the deal would allow more than 20 percent of Bolivia’s population to access the vaccine and that procurement would be facilitated by the Russian fund’s international partners in India, China, South Korea and other countries. ‘other countries. The population of Bolivia is 11.35 million people and 20% would be 2.27 million people.

Bolivian President Luis Arce said in a signing ceremony that the contract guaranteed his country 5.2 million doses, but the Russian fund later clarified that it had committed 2.6 million doses, or 5.2 million injections of the vaccine at two doses.

A spokesperson for the fund confirmed that the promised offer would treat 2.6 million people.

Arce said Russia would send 6,000 doses, for 3,000 “treatments”, in January to immunize its most vulnerable populations, 1.7 million doses by the end of March and the rest “between April and May”.

The deal with Bolivia is the latest sign that the Russian vaccine is making inroads in Latin American countries eager to increase their immunization capacities, including neighboring Argentina and Venezuela.

On Monday, Reuters reported that Russia’s first large international shipment of its coronavirus vaccine last week – 300,000 doses sent to Argentina – consisted of only the first dose of the two-shot vaccine, which is easier to manufacture than the second dose. Most of the other COVID-19 vaccines, which are given in two doses of the same product, Sputnik V relies on two doses given using different inactive viruses, called vectors.

President Vladimir Putin called a one-component option a “light vaccine,” which he said would offer less protection than the two components, but “will still be 85%” effective.

Bolivia, which has seen periods of political and social upheaval since the contested 2019 elections, has seen longtime President Evo Morales step down, an interim government installed and then a new elected government led by Arce, struggled to conclude bilateral agreements for the supply of vaccines.

The government has said it also hopes to immunize up to 20% of its population in the first quarter of next year through the global COVAX initiative, which is supported by the World Health Organization and seeks to ensure a equitable distribution of vaccines.

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