CARACAS, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- Venezuelan authorities received on Friday the first batch of Russian Sputnik V vaccines against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and announced they plan to begin Phase III clinical trials in the country.

The batch of 2,000 vaccines arrived at the Simon Bolivar International Airport in the city of Maiquetia.

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez called the shipment a historic moment and expressed her enthusiasm that "Venezuela is the first country in the western hemisphere to participate in Phase III of this vaccine's clinical trials."

"Immediately, this month, we will be starting in the country, starting with the capital, the corresponding clinical trial phase," said Minister of Health Carlos Alvarado.

He explained that after these tests, authorities will work with Russia on "the strengthening of our vaccine plant in Caracas for the filling, the packaging of the vaccine in Venezuela, and then complete production."

"Once Phase III ends both in Russia and now in Venezuela, the mass production process will begin, which will end with its application to as many people as possible nationwide," Alvarado said.