Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Sunday his son will join trials of Sputnik V, the coronavirus vaccine which was met with caution when Russia announced it was the world’s first to be approved.
An initial batch of the vaccine arrived in Venezuela on Friday, the government announced, and 2,000 residents will participate in the trials.
“In this clinical trial phase, my son, Nicolas Ernesto Maduro Guerra, told me of his decision to be vaccinated with the Russian vaccine, to join the trial. I think it is very good,” the socialist leader said in a speech on state television network VTV.
Maduro’s sister is also a volunteer for the clinical trials.
Maduro Guerra, 30, is also a politician and a member of his father’s governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
Named “Sputnik V” after the historic Soviet-era satellite, the vaccine was met with skepticism from the global medical community.
Russia in August declared itself the first country to approve a coronavirus vaccine, although it is still undergoing large-scale clinical trials after promising results.
The drug is currently in Phase 3, the human testing state, and according to Moscow, more than 40,000 volunteers have been inoculated during the process.
“When the entire scientific, clinical and testing phase is closed, voluntary vaccination will come… As soon as we start mass vaccination, I am going to be the first one to get it,” Maduro said.
Russia has been one of Maduro’s main backers in the face of international pressure led by Washington, which seeks to displace him from power because it considers his reelection to have been fraudulent.
The US, as well as some 50 other countries, recognize Maduro’s opponent, National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido, as Venezuela’s interim president.
Guaido slammed the decision to participate in the Russian trials, saying, “They use our people as guinea pigs.”
According to official figures, as of Saturday, Venezuela has registered 77,646 cases of Covid-19 out of the entire 30 million population, and 649 deaths. These numbers are disputed by the country’s opposition and international organizations such as Human Rights Watch.