U.S. shipping 3.5 million doses of Moderna vaccine to Colombia

The Biden administration on Friday is shipping out 3.5 million Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses to Colombia, which will arrive in the South American country on Sunday, two White House officials tell CBS News. The 3.5 million doses represent both shots of the vaccine regiment, so will serve roughly half that many people. 

On top of the 2.5 million Johnson & Johnson doses the United States has already given to the South American country, this latest donation "makes Colombia the largest recipient of U.S. vaccine donations in the region," with 6 million total doses, a senior White House staffer said.  

A White House official confirmed that in the past week, the U.S. has sent about 12.5 million total doses to Latin American countries, including Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and now Colombia.  Through COVAX, the global vaccination program run in part by the World Health Organization, the administration has sent approximately 20 million doses total to Latin America, according to the White House. 

The latest shipment to Colombia will also be distributed among the growing population of nearly 2 million Venezuela refugees who have fled their neighboring country to Colombia.

"These vaccine donations will enable the government of Colombia to provide broad protection to its citizens and some of the many Venezuelan migrants and refugees within its borders," the White House official said.

"A new donation of 3.5 million Moderna vaccines will reach more vulnerable Colombians and Venezuelan migrants," the U.S. embassy in Colombia tweeted earlier Friday.

The U.S. is the only country that has donated COVID-19 vaccines to Colombia, the official added. Between the two donations, the United States will help "immunize nearly 9% of the total population of Colombia." 

"The government of Colombia has made tremendous strides in its vaccination campaign, and this donation will increase the total number of Colombians immunized from 20% to 24% of the population," another senior White House official said.

According to Johns Hopkins University, over 4.5 million Colombians have been infected with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Over 118,000 have died. 

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