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UNICEF chief: $1 bln more needed for COVAX COVID-19 vaccine rollout

by Reuters
Wednesday, 10 March 2021 14:53 GMT

A health worker holds bottles of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine under the COVAX scheme against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya March 5, 2021. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi

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United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund calls countries to help poor countries access COVID-19 vaccines

DUBAI, March 10 (Reuters) - The United Nations' children's fund on Wednesday urged countries to contribute more money to help poor countries access coronavirus vaccines, saying around $1 billion was needed.

UNICEF, the world's single largest vaccine buyer, is part of the World Health Organization-backed COVAX programme to supply COVID-19 shots to emerging economies.

"We have been asking the world for more funding ... for UNICEF and our distribution to countries we still need about $1 billion," UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said at a virtual event organised by Dubai's World Government Summit.

That funding could be used strengthen health systems in poorer nations and support the distribution of vaccines there, she said.

The COVAX initiative aims to deliver at least 2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses this year, including 1.3 billion doses to lower income countries.

Fore urged vaccine makers to sign licensing agreements so vaccines could be made locally, singling out Africa as one market that needed it.

She also said it was unlikely the COVAX scheme would be able to cover the world this year.

"There is still more to do and we could do with more help and assistance."

(Writing by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)