Residents in the far-flung city of Trinidad, Bolivia can rest assured: 1,100 doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine were successfully delivered this week, albeit by the most unlikely of means. After being flown into the region on a flight operated by the national airline Boliviana de Aviación, the potentially life-saving cargo was loaded onto a truck belonging to a local chicken meat distributor.
Onlookers could tell something unusual was happening when the bright-yellow "Distribuidora de pollos" truck, owned by the Gabriel chicken company, pulled into the town accompanied by a full police escort, as reported by Bolivian daily El Diario.
News of the precious "chicken" procession quickly made the rounds in Bolivia, with some using the incident to take shots at the government of President Luis Arce, a leftist who took office last November. "Bolivia thanks the Gabriel chicken company for offering transportation in Trinidad of non-certified Russian vaccines," Arturo Murillo, a former government minister, posted on Twitter. "Luckily the private sector is there to help given how incompetent the Luis Arce government is."
Located in Bolivia's northeastern lowlands, Trinidad is the capital of Beni, the second-least populous of the country's nine departments. As of now, authorities explained, there are no government-owned vehicles there to transport coronavirus vaccines at the cold temperatures required to assure their effectiveness — hence the refrigerated chicken truck.
But the local health department was quick to respond to the question on the mind of any good shopper, or doctor: "The vehicle was fully disinfected beforehand in accordance with bio-security regulations."