Peruvian President Francisco Sagasti will be the first person in his country to receive a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sinopharm, Minister of Health Pilar Mazzetti said on Saturday. Through a radio program, the minister said the move is of great importance and will send a symbolic message to all citizens.
“We have all agreed that the president of the republic has to be the first person to be vaccinated as a demonstration that, first, this vaccine will help us all to be calm, and it is a guarantee that we will have better protection,” she said. Last month, Sagasti said his government had secured one million vaccine doses from Sinopharm for delivery in February. He said the deal was part of a larger agreement to purchase 38 million doses from the Chinese company.
The first batch of Sinopharm vaccines is scheduled to arrive in Peru on Sunday. Aside from Chinese vaccines, the Peruvian government has also closed a deal with AstraZeneca and Oxford University, ordering a total of 14 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccines. But that supply is not due to begin arriving in the South American nation until September.
Peru has so far registered a total of 1,180,478 COVID-19 cases and 42,121 deaths. The country is going through the most critical moment of the pandemic, as the second wave of COVID-19 has flared up, nearly overwhelming public hospitals due to the high demand for sick beds and a shortage of medical oxygen to care for the seriously ill.
It’s reported that in the port city of El Callao near the capital Lima, hundreds of Peruvians have taken to sleeping on the street, sometimes for days on end, in queues of people desperate for oxygen.