Four people who offered black-and-white anti-COVID vaccines on the internet have been arrested and imprisoned in Caracas, as Venezuela has been facing a second wave of coronavirus wreaking havoc since March, according to a statement from the Caracas court received by AFP Thursday.
“A woman and three men (…) were selling anti-COVID vaccines for $ 280 through the Marketplace page,” the statement said. “Two ampoules of the vaccine”, but also “34 vials of rocuronium bromide”, injectable antibiotics and tramadol were seized.
The emergence of a vaccine black market in Venezuela has become a recurring topic of conversation in the country. Several medical sources have raised the subject with AFP, speaking of “doses at 300 dollars” and “vaccines at 600”, but it was not possible to verify these claims nor the existence of a black market. .
The country has recorded more than 175,000 cases, including more than 20,000 in March with the arrival of the Brazilian variant deemed to be more contagious, for around 1,800 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to official figures. These figures are considered “totally false” by the opposition which denounces a collapse of the “health system”.
Hospitals are overwhelmed and vaccines are trickling in in this country in the midst of economic slump.
The country launched a vaccination campaign with Russian Sputnik V and Chinese Sinopharm vaccines, but received less than a million doses.
The government also announced that it had paid just over half the amount required to purchase 11.3 million doses of vaccine through the Covax mechanism managed in particular by the World Health Organization (WHO). None of these vaccines have arrived yet.
The power ensures that the economic sanctions with the freezing of Venezuelan assets abroad have slowed down the process. An explanation qualified as a “lie” by the opposition.
In addition, Venezuela will produce a Cuban anti-COVID vaccine, up to two million doses per month from August, President Nicolas Maduro promised on Sunday.