QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador and Paraguay have both received some 20,000 doses of the Sinovac coronavirus vaccine from Chile, the governments of the recipient countries said on Saturday.
The donation of a total 40,000 doses provided a stark example of the 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 President Lenin Moreno by municipal authorities, who are planning to import vaccines on their own. Paraguay has also faced harsh domestic criticism of its rollout.
Ecuador 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.
The Paraguayan Foreign Ministry announced the arrival of 20,000 doses of the vaccine, also donated by Chile, at a time when President Mario Abdo faces demonstrations against the handling of the pandemic.
The immunization program in Paraguay began at the end of February with 4,000 doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine. The vaccines in Paraguay are being directed toward healthcare workers. Some 3,278 people have died in Paraguay from COVID-19, according to official data.
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 nearly 16,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus, official data show.
(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Diane Craft and Daniel Wallis)