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Health

Panama greenlights funds to buy AstraZeneca's planned coronavirus vaccine

FILE PHOTO: Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo/File Photo

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - Panama’s government has authorized spending of $4.3 million to purchase 1.09 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine being developed by Britain’s AstraZeneca Plc and Oxford University, the president’s office said on Wednesday.

The Central American nation has been working on multiple Covid-19 vaccine options for its population of 4.2 million, with President Laurentino Cortizo saying he wants to guarantee that each resident will have access to two doses.

Last week, the government approved spending $48 million to buy 4 million doses of a vaccine being developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc and its partner BioNTech of Germany.

The government in September also signed up for the World Health Organization-backed COVAX plan - a multilateral initiative running trials on several potential vaccines - from which it expects to receive some 1.3 million doses.

The country has been hard hit by the global pandemic, with nearly 150,000 confirmed infections and around 3,000 dead.

Reporting by Elida Moreno; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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