Brazil's Athletico plans to buy vaccines for fans, players

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FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a medical syringe and a small bottle labeled "Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine

(Reuters) - Brazilian top-flight club Athletico Paranaense said it wants to buy COVID-19 vaccines and make them available to fans with paid-up memberships, as well as players and officials, free of charge.

Brazil’s Congress passed a law earlier this week allowing private firms to buy vaccines and if it comes into force Athletico said they would purchase them, in conjunction with other businesses.

The Curitiba-based club, who won the Copa Sudamericana in 2018, would make the vaccines available "for all their employees, players, backroom staff and (members) who are helping by paying their monthly membership dues during the pandemic, even though they can’t go to the stadium”.

Athletico did not say how many members they have but media reports put the figure at between 20,000-30,000 before the pandemic.

The club's monthly memberships, which are similar to season tickets in Europe, are priced at between 75 reais and 350 reais ($62.86).

"Athletico invites all institutions involved in football to also do their part to help the country beat the COVID-19 pandemic," the club added in a statement.

Brazil has been hit hard by the pandemic, with officials reporting a record daily death toll of 4,249 on Thursday. More than 345,000 people have died from the virus in South America’s most populous nation.

Brazil is leading the world in the daily average number of new deaths reported and accounts for one in every four deaths worldwide each day, according to a Reuters analysis.

The World Health Organization acknowledged the nation's dire condition due to coronavirus, saying the country is in a very critical condition with an overwhelmed healthcare system

($1 = 5.5679 reais)

(Reporting by Andrew Downie in London; Editing by Peter Rutherford)