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Amazon, pharma firms should help COVID-19 vaccine reach poorest - German minister

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FILE PHOTO: Weekly German cabinet meeting in Berlin

BERLIN (Reuters) - Companies that have benefitted from the coronavirus crisis, such as Amazon and drugmakers, should join wealthy countries in helping to fund access to vaccines for poorer nations, Germany's international development minister said on Tuesday.

Herculean research efforts have seen several promising vaccines reach the brink of approval in recent weeks. But with richer countries ordering up supplies, concerns have grown that poorer nations will miss out.

Gerd Mueller, Germany's development minister, said it should not only be richer governments trying to make sure the developing world gets its fair share.

"Private companies that have particularly profited from the coronavirus crisis, like Amazon or the pharmaceuticals companies also have an obligation," he told Reuters.

On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was concerned that not enough had been done to ensure adequate supplies of the new vaccines were available to poorer states, even as European governments and the United States snapped up supplies.

Pharmaceutical firms should offer the World Health Organization's COVAX initiative - designed to make available supplies to poorer countries - "the best possible conditions and good prices" for their vaccines, Mueller said.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke, writing by Thomas Escritt, editing by Mark Potter)