Panama says buying vaccines for more than 80% of its population

FILE PHOTO: A banner reading "Stay at Home" is pictured near an empty avenue during the curfew as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues, in Panama City, Panama March 31, 2020. REUTERS/Erick Marciscano

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Panama has sought to acquire more than 8 million coronavirus vaccine doses to inoculate about 80% of the Central American nation’s residents, Health Minister Luis Sucre said on Sunday.

Panama has a population of about 4.2 million people but most coronavirus vaccines require two shots spaced several weeks apart.

Panama has requested about 1 million doses from the COVID-19 vaccine portfolio under the COVAX facility coordinated by the World Health Organization to support lower-income countries, Sucre said.

Panama will acquire a further 3 million doses from U.S. pharmaceutical firm Pfizer Inc and the same amount from Russia, which has developed the Sputnik V vaccine.

Panama also aims to acquire 1.1 million doses manufactured by AstraZeneca PLC and 300,000 shots produced by Johnson & Johnson, Sucre added.

Reporting by Elida Moreno in Panama City; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; editing by Diane Craft