GENEVA -- The World Health Organization said on Friday it had reached an agreement with Pfizer for 40 million doses of its vaccine against COVID-19, allowing it to begin vaccinating people in poor and lower-middle income countries under its COVAX program next month.

The COVAX program has signed deals for hundreds of millions of doses to vaccinate people in poor and lower-middle income countries, but has yet to begin vaccinations. Pfizer's vaccine is so far the only one that has WHO emergency approval.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing that the new agreement with Pfizer should allow vaccinations to begin in February for health workers.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the 40 million doses announced on Friday would be sold on a non-profit basis. He described it as an initial agreement, and said more doses could be sold through the COVAX program in future.