LIMA, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Peru will pay $26 million for an initial batch of one million doses of Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine, the first part of a broader agreement with the Chinese company to supply 38 million doses, economy minister Waldo Mendoza said on Tuesday.
Peruvian president Francisco Sagasti last week said his interim administration had negotiated vaccine supply deals with Sinopharm Group and AstraZeneca Plc, jumpstarting a vaccine program that has been slow to take root in the country.
Mendoza called the payment a “concrete and objective step the government is taking so that the vaccines arrive as soon as possible.”
Sagasti originally said the first batch of the Sinopharm vaccine would arrive in January, but foreign minister Elizabeth Astete later said the delivery could be delayed until early February.
Peru has reported more than one million cases of coronavirus since the pandemic struck in March. COVID-19 cases have crept up recently following the end-of-year holidays, prompting a shortage of beds in critical care wards in Lima and across the country.
Economy minister Mendoza said Peru was currently in talks with 10 pharmaceutical companies to buy vaccines. He said the government has budgeted up to $2.7 billion for the supply and distribution of vaccines and related expenses.
“This figure may vary according to the needs of the country and the development of the pandemic,” Mendoza said.
Peru has lagged behind some of its wealthier neighbors in efforts to secure vaccines for its citizens amid a political crisis in 2020 where one president was ousted and another resigned.
Reporting by Marco Aquino, writing by Dave Sherwood. Editing by Jane Merriman