Lionel Messi has helped secure 50,000 doses of a Covid vaccine for Conmebol as part of a bold campaign to inoculate South American players ahead of this summer’s Copa America
A deal was reached with Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac after Messi donated three signed Barcelona shirts, with the deal brokered by Uruguay president Luis Lacalle Pou, according to The Guardian.
Conmebol official Gonzalo Belloso revealed the deal on Twitter while posting pictures Messi’s signed shirts.
Belloso tweeted: ‘Sinovac’s directors manifested their admiration for Lionel Messi, who kindly sent us three shirts for them.’
The South American football confederation, Conmebol, are planning to vaccinate as many players from the continent for this summer’s showpiece, which is being held in Colombia and Argentina.
Some of the 50,000 vaccines will be going to Argentina’s first division male sides.
‘The idea is to vaccinate all of Argentina’s first division teams,’ said Bellos. ‘We want all football players to be inoculated before the Copa América because any of them could be called to play.’
The Guardian are also reporting that the Argentinian government will first need to approve China’s Sinovac vaccine first before the doses are administered.
China’s top disease control officials warned earlier this week that the efficacy of the country’s Covid vaccine is low and that they are working on a way to improve them.
Uruguay currently has the highest number of new daily Covid cases worldwide, 1,084 per million inhabitants, compared to the UK’s 25 per million.
Vaccines are also scarce in countries like Uruguay and Argentina, which has prompted Conmebol to take action ahead of this summer’s tournament.
‘Just as the president manifested cooperation with Conmebol to vaccinate for the Copa America, he could just as well have the same consideration for Canelones,’ the mayor of the Uruguayan city of Canelones, Yamandu Orsi, said.
The Argentinian government is also considering a strong lockdown in order to halt the spread of coronavirus while the country waits on the next influx of vaccines, which last arrived on April 4.
Conmebol officials have also approached Argentinian government officials to grant special exemption for football players to receive the vaccine, The Guardian are reporting.