Venezuela will be the first country in the Western Hemisphere to participate in phase 3 clinical trials of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said on Friday.
She was speaking at Maiquetia airport after the arrival of a first batch of the vaccine.
About 2,000 Venezuelans will participate in the clinical trials, Health Minister Carlos Alvarado said at the airport.
The trials will start this month, initially in the capital, Caracas, he added.
The South American country will also participate in the packaging and production of the vaccine, Alvarado and Rodriguez said.
The Vice Presidency tweeted that the vaccine was an “expression of solidarity of Russia [to] humanity, in the face of the global emergency created by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Russian embassy representative Alexey Seredin said the arrival of the vaccine was “a faithful reflection of the strategic cooperation between our countries.”
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro tweeted that he thanked “brother and president Vladimir Putin and the Russian people for their show of solidarity.”
Caracas has boosted ties with Moscow amid US sanctions and the support of dozens of countries to opposition leader Juan Guaido, who claims presidential powers.
Venezuela has confirmed more than 76,000 novel coronavirus infections and 635 deaths, though the real figures are believed to be considerably higher.