Chile donates 20,000 doses of Sinovac coronavirus vaccine to Ecuador

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QUITO, March 6 (Reuters) - Ecuador has received a donation of some 20,000 doses of the Sinovac coronavirus vaccine from Chile, Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno said on Saturday, in a sign of the stark disparities in South American countries' inoculation campaigns.

Chile, one of Latin America's wealthiest countries, ranks sixth in the world for per-capita vaccine shots administered, according to Reuters data, with a quarter of the population now having received a dose.

By contrast, Ecuador's slow rollout has prompted criticism of Moreno by municipal authorities, who are planning to import vaccines on their own. The Andean country had administered some 65,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine as of Friday, namely to healthcare workers and nursing home residents.

"Bilateral relations are bearing fruit," Moreno wrote on Twitter on Saturday, adding that Ecuador would use the donation from Chile to vaccinate healthcare workers. "It is a demonstration of solidarity between countries."

Ecuador's health ministry said in a statement that it had issued an emergency use authorization for the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine.

Ecuador plans to administer 20 million total doses of various COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the year, enough to inoculate between 60%-70% of the population over the age of 18.

The country has registered more than 290,000 cases and nearly 16,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus, official data show. (Reporting by Alexandra Valencia Writing by Luc Cohen; editing by Diane Craft)