14ymedio, Havana, 27 September 2022 — Nicaragua has received only half of the COVID-19 vaccines promised by the governments of Cuba and Russia since 2021. A monitoring by the independent Nicaraguan newspaper Confidencial revealed that, although Daniel Ortega paid his allies the joint figure of $102 million for 11.2 million doses, double what the British vaccine AstraZeneca would have cost, not all of the planned batches reached the country.
The shortage refutes the promise made by Rosario Murillo, Ortega’s partner and the vice president of Nicaragua, that Cuban vaccines would be received and used by December 2021.
Russia had to provide the Central American country with 1.9 million doses of Sputnik V, while Cuba had negotiated the sale of 7 million of Sovereign 02, Sovereign Plus and Abdala. Although both nations have sold or donated these drugs, none of them have the authorization of the World Health Organization (WHO).
However, the Confidencial report, documented with the official press releases, found that between October and December only 3,162,970 doses were received from the Island, just 45.1% of the amount that Ortega bought to immunize the children and teenagers of Nicaragua.
As for Russia, of the almost 2 million expected injections, only 726 thousand were received, 38% of the stipulated amount.
During 2021 and the first months of 2022, government information on the purchase of medicines became more murky. The thank you notes that Daniel Ortega usually published also ceased to appear. According to Confidencial, it’s unknown, since the beginning of the year, whether Cuba intends to comply with its part of the agreement.
From the Island it’s also not possible to calculate how much has been sent to Nicaragua and whether the export of any other lot is planned. In January 2022, the Finlay Vaccine Institute said it had sent a new shipment to Ortega, but without revealing how many doses.
According to Confidencial, the unit cost of each vaccine was seven dollars if the amount of a loan requested by the Ortega Government from the World Bank for payment to Havana is taken as a reference.
For its part, the price of Sputnik V was almost ten dollars, and the total amount received by Russia amounted to 5.4 million, although Ortega knew that other buyers of the drug had filed complaints about Moscow’s delays in delivering the orders.
The deficit of vaccines and the impact it has caused on children, who were unable to complete their immunization schedules, has forced Ortega to accept donations. This was the case last July, when the United States sent a batch of the Pfizer vaccine. The Confidencial report adds that children from three to eleven years old are receiving the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine.
In total, about ten types of vaccine have come into circulation in the Central American country, and it’s estimated that 85% of the population has already completed the vaccination schedule.
For Ortega and his allies, including the Havana regime, the purchase and sale of vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic has had a high geopolitical importance. For Cuba, the sale of its drugs reached regional governments such as Venezuela, Mexico and Argentina, but it also served to strengthen relations with Russia and Iran.
In addition, the sale or donation of Abdala, Mambisa and the different ranges of Sovereign led to an international medical propaganda campaign, on the part of the Government, which has tried, in the midst of the pandemic, to whitewash the regime after the repression of the demonstrators in the July 11 protests.
Translated by Regina Anavy
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.