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REFILE-COVAX to initially supply Colombia up to 4.4 million coronavirus vaccine doses

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(Refiles to fix RIC)

BOGOTA, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Colombia will receive up to an initial 4.4 million doses of coronavirus vaccines via the World Health Organization-backed COVAX mechanism, the government said on Saturday.

The Andean country will receive vaccines produced by Pfizer and BioNTech, as well as by AstraZenca via the scheme, President Ivan Duque said in a televised address.

"We have received information from the multilateral COVAX strategy indicating that Colombia has been ratified among 18 countries in which the administration of vaccines will begin," Duque said.

Colombia is set to get 117,000 doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine in the first quarter of the year, according to a letter from COVAX published on Twitter by Health Minister Fernando Ruiz.

The country will also receive between 2.6 million and 4.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the letter said. Both vaccines require two doses per person.

The low end of the AstraZeneca range reflects the expected distribution due to supply constraints, the letter added, while the high end represents the contracted number of doses.

Between 25% and 35% of the AstraZeneca vaccines will be delivered in the first quarter of 2021, with the remaining 65% to 75% expected to arrive in the second quarter.

So far, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved by Colombia's food and drug regulator, INVIMA.

On Friday, Duque said Colombia had reached agreements with Moderna Inc and Sinovac Biotech to take the vaccine doses secured by the country to just over 35 million.

Of the vaccines Colombia has already secured, 10 million are expected to come via the COVAX mechanism.

Colombia aims to have at least 1 million people vaccinated by the end of the first quarter of this year.

It has reported almost 2.1 million coronavirus infections, as well as 53,650 deaths from COVID-19. (Reporting by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Daniel Wallis)