South Korea secures enough COVID-19 vaccine doses for 44 million citizens
The South Korean Government has announced plans to secure enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to inoculate 44 million of its citizens, covering approximately 88% of the nation’s total population of over 51 million.
The deals cover the procurement of 20 million doses each of candidates from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna – the latter two of which have shown efficacy rates of over 90% in final Phase 3 trials – and a further four million doses of Janssen’s developing candidate.
The 44 million is rounded out by a deal to secure ten million vaccine doses through COVAX, the World Health Organization’s global vaccine project.
While the deal with AstraZeneca has reportedly already been signed, the others are expected to follow promptly later this month. Deals to procure vaccine candidates from China or Russia were notably absent from the announcement.
“We had initially planned to secure vaccines for 30 million people but decided to purchase more, as there is uncertainty over the success of the vaccine candidates and the competition is intense among countries for early purchases,” commented Park Neung-hoo, the South Korean Minister of Health.
The first doses procured under the deals are set to arrive in the country in March; however, mass vaccination is not likely to commence until the second half of next year, by which point South Korean authorities can better assess the safety, efficacy and impact of the vaccines based on the experience of other nations around the world.
“We don’t see the need to hurriedly begin vaccination without ensuring that the vaccines’ risks have been verified,” Park added.
South Korea is currently grappling with a third wave of the virus, with around 39,000 active cases and just over 550 deaths so far.
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