On May 19th Carolina Dávila, the minister advisor, informed through official media outlets that the Government of Daniel Ortega is involved in negotiations with pharmaceutical laboratories to buy more vaccines against covid-19 and reiterated the promise to immunize 70% of Nicaraguans during 2021.
"We already have the funds to bring in the purchase, and what we are doing is to negotiate, to see the availability of the companies and get the vaccines. We would continue vaccinating according to age groups, as we are doing with people under 55 years," Davila said.
Since the end of April, Nicaragua has had a loan of 100 million dollars from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) for the acquisition of 6.86 million vaccines, with which 3.27 million Nicaraguans are to be immunized.
"(With this purchase) we would continue vaccinating according to age groups, that is, people under 55 years of age and more health workers. We are going to continue vaccinating within these risk groups until we reach at least 70% of the vaccinated population by the end of the year, which is our goal," she said.
According to the "Covid-19 vaccine project”, presented by the Ministry of Health (Minsa) in January this year, the Government's plan was to invest in the purchase of 7.4 million vaccines: 3.8 million of Sputnik V, 1.5 million of Moderna and 2.1 million of AstraZeneca or Covishield. This amount of doses would guarantee the immunization of 55% of the population and 115 million dollars would be required to meet this goal.
Minsa is already applying Russian vaccines
On May 4, Nicaragua received a batch of 70,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine purchased by the Government of Nicaragua from the Russian Federation. This, according to official media, corresponds to a total purchase of 1.9 million vaccines. Although the promise was to buy double this sum.
"Yesterday, 70,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine arrived! (...) 70,000 doses for 70,000 Nicaraguan brothers and sisters. They arrived, and with this, we continue guaranteeing the protection of our people", said Murillo.
However, Murillo did not detail if the donation corresponds to the first dose. Unlike the Covishield vaccine which uses the same biologic for both doses; Sputnik uses two different vaccines. Therefore, if the 70,000 doses include both doses, it would only be enough for 35,000 people.
According to a medical source, Minsa started to apply these doses to health personnel last week. And although there was no official announcement by the Ministry of Health nor by the state spokesperson, Rosario Murillo, there is a record in El 19 Digital that they are already being applied.
"This Thursday, the Ministry of Health (Minsa) continued to vaccinate the population over 55 years of age, to whom the Russian-made drug Sputnik V is being applied. At the Community Training Center, in Managua's District I, more than a thousand people showed up before 6:00 a.m.", according to a report published in the official media.
Second dose of the vaccine will be in June
Those who received the Sputnik V vaccine are being programmed to receive the next dose in June. "The patients were given half a cubic centimeter of the Russian drug and they will have to apply the second and last dose next June 8", they point out. The time needed for the second dose of this serum is shorter than that of Covishield, which requires between six and eight weeks' difference.
As reported by the Government to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Minsa applied 166,350 first doses of the Covishield vaccine as of last week. Nicaraguan authorities have not reported on the number of people immunized with the Sputnik V vaccine, nor about the number of front-line medical personnel who have already been vaccinated.
In the coming weeks, the Covax Mechanism is expected to inform the Ortega government when the next shipment of covid-19 vaccines will arrive, PAHO confirmed on Wednesday. In Central America, El Salvador and Costa Rica are the countries that have applied the most doses. Nicaragua is in fifth place, and in the last place of countries that have applied the most complete doses.