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Venezuela payment to COVAX received after funds blocked – GAVI | via: Reuters

Reporting and writing by Stephanie Nebehay Additional reporting by Luc Cohen in Caracas; Editing by Peter Graff and Frances Kerry | Geneva | July 8, 2021 | Image: Archive

Venezuela has paid its financial commitments to the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility and will be allocated COVID-19 vaccine doses upon availability, a spokesperson for the GAVI vaccine alliance that co-runs the programme said on Thursday.

President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday he was giving COVAX an “ultimatum” to send doses to the country or return the money Venezuela had already paid. The country has been mired in economic crisis for years.

Venezuelan officials said in June that several payments to cover the $120 million fee had been made, but that the final four payments had been blocked by Swiss bank UBS. (UBSG.S) Maduro’s allies have attributed that to U.S. sanctions aimed at ousting him from the presidency. read more

The GAVI spokesperson, asked whether the funds had cleared UBS and the issue had been resolved, replied by email: “Venezuela recently joined COVAX and has paid its financial commitments. We look forward to allocating doses to Venezuela as we have availability of doses from the vaccines the country has chosen – and will choose – under the Optional Purchase model.”

He added that COVAX has received Venezuela’s payments.

COVAX, which has shipped 95 million doses to 134 countries since February and is run by the World Health Organization and GAVI, has been plagued by supply issues mainly because of the suspension of vaccine exports from India. It said this week that it is negotiating with new suppliers. read more

Venezuela’s information ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Venezuela has received 3.5 million vaccine doses from allies Russia and China, and is also conducting trials for Cuba’s Abdala vaccine.

Washington in 2019 blacklisted Venezuela’s state oil company, central bank and other government institutions, though it exempts humanitarian transactions from the sanctions.

Still, the measures have left many banks wary of processing even authorized Venezuela-related transactions.