UPDATE 1-Costa Rica signs up for COVAX vaccines for one million doses

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SAN JOSE, Sept 25 (Reuters) - The Costa Rican government announced on Friday it has signed up for the World Health Organization’s COVAX facility vaccine program to be able to pre-order more than one million doses of its coronavirus vaccines once they are made available.

The number of subsidized vaccines represents a fifth of the Central American nation’s population of about five million inhabitants.

“This is necessary to boost the post-pandemic economy,” President Carlos Alvarado said in a statement following the announcement.

To date, Costa Rica has confirmed more than 70,000 infections, as well as about 800 deaths attributed to the highly-contagious respiratory disease caused by the virus.

The government is also pursuing other means of acquiring more vaccines, but details were not provided.

An initial payment of about $6.3 million in October is needed to secure access to the COVAX vaccines, which amounts to 30% of an average price per dose of $10.55, the statement added.

The COVAX-Facility is coordinated by the WHO and funded by it, with additional funding provided by the United Nation’s children’s fund (UNICEF), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as the World Bank.

Reporting by Alvaro Murillo; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel