COVAX must start talks with COVID-19 vaccine makers - Merkel


German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds a joint news conference with Finance Minister Olaf Scholz after a virtual G20 summit meeting, at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, November 22, 2020. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/Pool

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged COVAX, an initiative set up to provide COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries, to start talks immediately with producers.

"I am concerned that there are no negotiations," Merkel told journalists on Sunday after the G20 summit, at which leaders of the 20 biggest economies vowed to spare no effort to supply COVID-19 drugs, tests and vaccines to the world affordably and fairly.

Merkel said that, unlike COVAX, the European Union and the United States were already advanced in their efforts to secure vaccine doses.

"The most important thing is that COVAX now negotiates with producers of potential vaccines with the money it has," Merkel said.

Dozens of countries have signed up to the global vaccine plan known as COVAX, which was set up by the World Health Organization and the GAVI vaccine group to provide vaccine doses for countries that could not otherwise afford them.

It has so far raised $5 billion, including over 500 million euros ($600 million) from Germany.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Christoph Steitz; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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