South Korea has signed deals with Pfizer Inc and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen to import coronavirus vaccines to cover up to 16 million people, because it grapples with the third wave of infections, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a televised briefing on Thursday.
The government has been facing growing public pressure over their COVID-19 vaccine procurement plans. This is because the country is struggling to contain a 3rd wave of the pandemic. They are reporting its second-highest daily tally of cases on Wednesday.
German partner BioNTech, which developed the Pfizer two-dose vaccine, will be enough to cover for 10 million people. They predict for the shipment to come within the third quarter of 2021.
“We are mobilizing the whole national capabilities to usher in the shipments within the second quarter,” said Chung. “The negotiation is underway.”
Chung said the doses from Janssen – J&J’s pharmaceuticals division – were added from the initial amount for two million people to six million and will be ready for inoculation from the second quarter.
Getting the vaccines
The Pfizer and Janssen deals are a part of a government attempt to buy enough doses. Which will allow immunization of 85% of South Korea’s population of 52 million.
Two other drugmakers of the four the country had secured the doses from are AstraZeneca Plc and Moderna Inc.
Procuring doses for 10 million people through the worldwide COVAX initiative, backed by the world Health Organization.
The health authorities had said they’d not rush inoculation to allow more time to observe potential side effects.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 985 new coronavirus cases as of Wednesday midnight, bringing the nation’s tally to 53,533, with 756 deaths.
Authorities have shut down all ski resorts and winter tourist spots and banned gatherings of more than four in a bid to prevent the spread during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
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