Colombian President Ivan Duque on Saturday welcomed the arrival of the first batch of vaccines from Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac, which will be "deployed throughout the national territory."
The president said that the vaccines will be sent to several remote regions of the country, especially to the border departments in the Amazon, to fight the variant of COVID-19 known as P.1.
Chinese Ambassador to Colombia Lan Hu, who was also present to welcome the arrival of the shipment, said the fight against the pandemic "has been the priority" of bilateral relations since last year and that the arrival of the vaccines represents an opportunity to help the country return to normality.
"We would also like to thank the government and the Colombian people for the confidence that they have placed in the Sinovac vaccine," the ambassador said.
"We hope that this vaccine, as a global public good, can play a more positive role in this battle, in this fight, in this national vaccination plan to save more lives and to restore normality to our socioeconomic life as soon as possible," he added.
In early February, Colombia's National Food and Drug Surveillance Institute approved the emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines developed by Sinovac. According to its National Vaccination Plan, healthcare workers and elders are among the first groups to be immunized.
The Ministry of Health reported on Saturday that the number of deaths from COVID-19 in Colombia had risen to 58,685 and the total infections had increased to 2,222,018.