The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed in a public report that it pressured at least Brazil and Panama to prevent the countries from receiving cooperation from Russia and Cuba in health matters.
The confirmation came through the annual report of the Department, in which it recognizes that it used the bilateral "diplomatic relations" between Washington and Brasilia to force the South American giant, one of the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, to reject the authorization for the use of Sputnik V, produced by Russia's Gamaleya Center.
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According to the U.S., its recommendations sought to prevent Russia from "increasing its influence" in the Latin American and Caribbean region. However, it avoided elaborating on how the approval of an additional vaccine to combat the pandemic in Brazil would undermine U.S. security.
In a section entitled "Combating malign influences in the Americas," health authorities confirmed that the use of diplomatic channels "to mitigate the efforts of Cuba and Russia [...] to the detriment of the security of the United States," whom it called "malicious states."
In Panama's case, the United States offered technical assistance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) so that the Central American country would reject any offer of Cuban doctors to fight the COVID-19 epidemic. In this case, as well, the U.S. failed to clarify in what sense this would be contrary to U.S. national security.
Despite the geopolitical opposition to its use, the Russian Gamaleya Center's vaccine has been authorized in two dozen countries, several of them in Latin America and the Caribbean. Despite the campaign against it, Cuban medical cooperation has also spread to three continents and more than thirty countries during this year of the COVID-19 pandemic alone.