South Korea Secures Vaccines for Nearly Twice Its Population
South Korea has secured enough vaccines to inoculate almost its entire population -- twice.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday said it signed an additional deal with Pfizer Inc. for a further 40 million doses, bringing the total it has procured from various manufacturers to 192 million, or enough for 99 million people. The country has a population of 52 million.
The procurements sharply contrast with its inoculation campaign, with barely 4% of the population receiving at least one dose. A total of 2.11 million Covid vaccine doses have been administered in South Korea, according to data collected by Bloomberg News and Johns Hopkins University.
The government faced public criticism for failing to ensure early vaccine supplies as rapidly as neighboring countries. Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong said this week the government was in talks with the U.S. on a “vaccine swap,” without elaborating on the process. The country began vaccinations in late February but briefly stopped shots made by AstraZeneca Plc amid concerns of potential blood clots.
South Korea had aimed to inoculate 12 million people by June and achieve herd immunity by November. The government said that the Pfizer deal will help hasten the timeline of getting herd immunity, which could be realized after more than 36 million people, or 70% of population, is vaccinated.
The country reported 785 new cases on Saturday, bringing total cases to more than 118,000. The country saw the number of local cases regularly exceed 500 a day this month, prompting the government to warn of a fourth coronavirus wave and urging people to stay at home.
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