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LDS Church gives $20M to help send vaccines globally


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The Salt Lake Temple | file photo

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Friday it has given $20 million to help a program aimed at distributing coronavirus vaccines to poorer countries around the world.

The donation from the humanitarian arm of the Utah-based faith goes to UNICEF as part of the organization’s work with the United Nations-backed COVAX initiative, which sent its long-awaited first delivery of about 600,000 doses of the vaccine Wednesday to Ghana.

Officials have hailed the initiative as the first time the world has delivered a highly sought-after vaccine to poor countries during an ongoing outbreak, but it has been hampered by limited global supply of doses and logistical problems. The goal is to deliver 2 billion shots this year to world’s most vulnerable people in low- and middle-income countries.

More than half of the 16.5 million members claimed by the faith live outside the United States, including 666,500 in Africa. Many members serve faith outreach missions around the world aimed at recruiting new members.

Gérald Caussé, Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint Charities, said critical health, nutritional and educational services for children will resume as more adults get vaccinated.