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UK earmarks a further $2.3 billion for its COVID vaccine push

FILE PHOTO: A health worker prepares an injection with a dose of Astra Zeneca coronavirus vaccine, at a vaccination centre in Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, Britain, February 18, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - British finance minister Rishi Sunak will announce an extra 1.65 billion pounds ($2.30 billion) to fund the country’s fast vaccination rollout as part of his annual budget statement on Wednesday, the finance ministry said.

“Protecting ourselves against the virus means we will be able to lift restrictions, reopen our economy and focus our attention on creating jobs and stimulating growth,” Sunak said in a statement.

Britain has so far given a first vaccination more than 20 million people, or more than one in three adults, Europe’s fastest vaccination rollout.

“The new money will continue to vaccinate the population and ensure every adult is offered a dose of a vaccine by July 31,” the ministry said.

A further 33 million pounds will be spent on vaccine testing and development to protect against future outbreaks and variants and 22 million pounds will fund a study to test the effectiveness of combinations of different COVID-19 vaccines.

Writing by William Schomberg; editing by Philippa Fletcher

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