South Korea pledges $200 million to international COVID-19 vaccine effort

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FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a mask amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic takes photographs of her boyfriend in Seoul

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea has pledged to donate a total of $200 million to the COVAX programme that is supplying coronavirus vaccines for lower-income countries, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) said on Friday.

COVAX, backed by GAVI and the World Health Organization (WHO), aims to secure 2 billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021.

“The Republic of Korea pledges a contribution of a total of $100 million this year, and in 2022 another $100 million in the form of a combination of financial and in-kind contribution,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a statement by GAVI.

While wealthy nations with robust vaccination campaigns have inoculated large swaths of their population, much of the world lags far behind, raising concerns of more COVID-19 waves that could spawn new virus variants.

Leaders from the Group of Seven rich nations agreed over the weekend to pledge 870 million vaccine doses, with the aim of delivering at least half by the end of this year. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed this on Monday but said many more doses were needed and quickly.

(Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Editing by Frances Kerry)