Venezuela to run out of vaccines in 4 months if U.S. sanctions continue: health minister

Thursday 23rd May, 2019
Venezuela's Health Minister Carlos Alvarado
GENEVA, May 23 (Xinhua/GNA) - Venezuela will run out of vaccines in four months if current blockade led by the United States continues, the country's health minister said on Wednesday.

During the ongoing World Health Assembly in Geneva, Venezuela's Health Minister Carlos Alvarado cited rotavirus vaccines as an example, saying they could run out in four months if the United States insists on its blockade.

He said that since the United States started to impose sanctions against Venezuela in 2014, half of the operating pharmaceutical companies in the country have left.

Besides the U.S. blockade, Alvarado also said that Venezuela currently has almost 5 billion euros (about 5.6 billion U.S. dollars) of foreign assets being frozen in overseas banks, of which some 600 million were for purchasing food, medications and surgical material.

If the country had access to those money, it would be able to pay for all the medication that Venezuela needs for six years, Alvarado said.

The lack of medicines and vaccines has already caused the resurface of some diseases, like measles, and the decrease of immunization coverage in the country in 2016 and 2017, he added.

To cope with the difficulties, Venezuela is working with Pan American Health Organization to purchase all vaccines, Alvarado said.

GNA