Peru inks deal with Pfizer for 20 million doses of coronavirus vaccine

FILE PHOTO: Vials of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru's interim president said on Thursday his administration had locked in a deal with Pfizer to purchase 20 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine, a major milestone as the Andean nation scrambles to jumpstart a mass vaccination program.

President Francisco Sagasti said that by April Peru would receive at least 500,000 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine co-developed with German partner BioNTech. The first 250,000 doses are slated for arrival in March, he said.

Peru was initially slow to lock down supplies for its vaccination program, lagging behind wealthier neighbors in Latin America. But it has since raced to catch up, securing deals with Sinopharm and AstraZeneca earlier this year.

The first lot of vaccines from Sinopharm are expected to arrive in the country on Feb. 13, Sagasti said.

The South American country earlier this week approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for one year amid a recent spike in coronavirus cases that has brought local hospitals to the brink of collapse.

Sagasti said Pfizer had committed to delivering at least 5 million doses its vaccine to Peru by June.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino, writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Aurora Ellis)