Ecuador secures $550 million to finance vaccination campaign

Ecuador's government launches 100-day vaccine plan against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Quito
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QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador has secured $550 million in financing to carry out its coronavirus vaccination, an essential step to begin reviving its pandemic-hit economy, economy minister Simon Cueva said on Tuesday.

President Guillermo Lasso, who took office on May 24, has pledged to vaccinate nine million of Ecuador's population of 17.5 million in the first 100 days of his government, and is seeking to accelerate negotiations to buy more vaccine doses.

"We already have $550 million assured," Cueva told reporters. "We want to revitalize the economy, and the first measure to do this is the ongoing mass vaccination plan."

Cueva said the financing was being provided by various multilateral organizations, without giving more detail.

The government expects to finish negotiations for vaccine purchases from China and Russia in the coming weeks.

Ecuador's economy was already struggling when the pandemic broke out, leading it to seek a $6.5 billion financing agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last year.

Cueva said the government remains in contact with the IMF to seek a "revision of goals," and that officials are pursuing other financing opportunities with multilateral organizations.

(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Karishma Singh)