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story.lead_photo.caption In this Oct. 9, 2020, file photo, a health worker, right, administers the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine currently on phase III clinical trials to Cem Gun, an emergency medicine physician at the Acibadem Hospital in Istanbul. The World Bank has approved $12 billion in financing to help developing countries buy and distribute coronavirus vaccines, tests, and treatments, aiming to support the vaccination of up to 1 billion people, the bank said in a statement late Tuesday, Oct. 13. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel, File)

WASHINGTON — The World Bank says it has approved $12 billion in financing to help developing countries buy and distribute coronavirus vaccines, tests and treatments.

The bank says the aim is to support the vaccination of up to 1 billion people and to signal to researchers and the pharmaceutical industry that people living in poor countries need access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.

It is part of a wider World Bank Group package of up to $160 billion to help developing countries fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The bank says its pandemic response programs are reaching 111 countries.

Development and deployment of such preventive vaccines is crucial to helping stem outbreaks of the coronavirus that has killed more than 1 million people and sickened more than 38 million.

The world's richest countries have locked up most of the potential vaccine supply through 2021, raising concerns poor and vulnerable communities won't get the shots.

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