Portugal on Thursday said it would vaccinate people against the coronavirus voluntarily and free of charge.

The government said it hoped to inoculate nearly 10% of the population during the first phase that will begin next month, with priority to those over 50 with pre-existing conditions, as well as people in care homes.

“We can already see the light at the end of the tunnel but not all vaccines arrive on the first day… they will gradually arrive throughout the year”, said prime minister Antonio Costa.

The second phase would see another 2.7 million people vaccinated, including those aged 65 and over, while the rest of the population is expected to be vaccinated during a third phase.

Health minister Marta Temido said the country would buy 22 million doses of COVID-19 shots for €200 million. It had signed agreements to buy the shots with potential manufacturers CureVac, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson&Johnson, Sanofi and GSK.

The country has so far reported 307,618 infections 4,724 coronavirus-related deaths.


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