Colombian President Iván Duque announced Monday that Venezuelan migrants living in the country without the correct legal documentation will be excluded from its nationwide vaccination program against the Chinese coronavirus.
Duque expressed concerns that including them would lead to a “stampede” from other countries to access a vaccine.
“Those who don’t have Colombian nationality and whose migration situation has not been regularized, of course not,” Duque said in an interview with Blu Radio.
According to Duque, the measure will be put in place to avoid a “stampede” of Venezuelans “where everyone crosses the border asking to be vaccinated.” His government has currently secured 40 million doses of Pfizer’s U.S.-approved experimental vaccine for a population of 50 million.
Neighboring Venezuela, a socialist state with a barely functional healthcare system, has announced that it will implement a vaccination program using the unproven vaccine candidate Sputnik V from Russia. The regime of dictator Nicolás Maduro purchased 10 million doses for a population almost three times that size, despite widespread concerns regarding Sputnik V’s safety and efficacy.
Around 1.8 Venezuelans have left and made their lives in Colombia amid the economic and humanitarian crisis in their homeland, and the country remains the most popular destination for those migrants. More than half of these people are not legally present in Colombia, although the Colombian government has effectively allowed an open border policy for those seeking to flee the failed socialist state.
Colombia remains one of the Latin American countries most severely affected by the pandemic, having reported more than 1.5 million cases in a population of nearly 50 million people. Health authorities have so far confirmed 41,174 deaths as a result of the virus, working out at a mortality rate of 781.81 per million people.