South Korea to secure coronavirus vaccines for 60% of population: PM Chung

South Korea to secure coronavirus vaccines for 60% of population: PM Chung

FILE PHOTO: People rest as they keep social distancing amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pand
FILE PHOTO: People rest as they keep social distancing amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic at a Han River park in Seoul, South Korea, September 9, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

SEOUL: South Korea will secure early supply of the novel coronavirus vaccines for 30 million people, or 60 per cent of its population, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a cabinet meeting on Tuesday (Sep 14). 

While authorities would like to inoculate the country's entire population of 52 million, uncertainty around the vaccine's safety, efficacy and development was limiting South Korea's investment, Chung said. 

READ: COVID-19: South Korea eases social distancing for two weeks ahead of major holiday

Chung said the government will negotiate with the relevant international organisations and vaccine makers to secure the early supply of the COVID-19 vaccines and would buy more as the development proceeds.

In August, South Korea said it planned to join the COVAX facility, a global COVID-19 vaccine allocation plan co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) that aims to help buy and fairly distribute the shots.

South Korea will purchase 20 million doses of vaccines from the COVAX scheme, available for 10 million people, and 40 million doses from private drug makers, the health authorities said in a statement.

The government has prepared 172 billion won (US$146 million) to pay for vaccines, including US$70 million for the 20 million doses from the COVAX facility.

"We will prepare to secure the safest and proven-effective vaccines as of now to inoculate as many as possible," a Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) official, Kwon Jun-wook, told a briefing.

South Korea has been one of the world’s coronavirus mitigation success stories, with an aggressive testing and tracing strategy, but it has nevertheless been battling persistent spikes in infections.

The KDCA reported 106 new coronavirus cases as of Monday, bringing its total number of infections to 22,391 with 367 deaths.

South Korea’s SK Bioscience in July agreed to manufacture AstraZeneca’s experimental vaccine, that has shown promise against the coronavirus, to help the British company build global supplies.

Novavax Inc last month separately said SK Bioscience, a unit of SK Chemicals, would manufacture a component of the US drug developer's experimental coronavirus vaccine in a bid to boost its supply.

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Source: Reuters/aa

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