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SEOUL, Dec. 8 (Yonhap) — South Korea has secured early entry of COVID-19 vaccines developed by 4 pharmaceutical firms and from a worldwide vaccine undertaking for 44 million folks, the well being ministry mentioned Tuesday.
The ministry mentioned it has already signed a cope with AstraZeneca and can ink contracts with three different firms later this month, including it has put aside 1.three trillion gained (US$1.2 billion) of its funds for the vaccine buy.
The preordered vaccines, sufficient to cowl 88 p.c of the nation’s inhabitants, shall be shipped as early as February, however the ministry mentioned it has not but determined when to kickstart the vaccination program.
“As developments of vaccines will not be but accomplished, and there are nonetheless considerations over their security and efficacy, we’ll flexibly determine the vaccination schedule contemplating varied components,” Well being Minister Park Neunghoo mentioned in a briefing.
Well being authorities earlier mentioned it could be fascinating to start the vaccine program within the latter half of subsequent yr to organize the method and monitor potential negative effects of vaccines in different international locations.
The vaccines shall be first rolled out to virus-vulnerable teams, comparable to aged folks, care house residents and front-line well being staff, then to the remainder of the inhabitants so as of danger, together with those that are clinically susceptible.
Well being authorities mentioned the federal government determined to up the vaccine provide from 30 million folks to 44 million to raised struggle the virus, but it surely will not be in a rush to inoculate folks on account of uncertainty over the vaccines’ security and efficacy.
“Because the outbreak in South Korea has remained inside a manageable degree, I feel the federal government does not need to swiftly deploy vaccines like European nations and america as efficacy and security considerations stay,” Lee Hoan-jong, an emeritus professor of Seoul Nationwide College, mentioned throughout the briefing.
“We will safe sufficient vaccines to deploy them in several teams after intently monitoring potential negative effects that may be found two or three months after vaccination in different international locations.”
The ministry mentioned it’s going to set up a activity power to manage the large-scale vaccine program throughout the nation, together with chilly provide chain administration for temperature-controlled vaccines.
Officers mentioned the staff will contemplate establishing specialised facilities for vaccines requiring ultra-low temperature storage and renovating present services to securely inoculate folks.
Well being authorities expressed hope that potential COVID-19 vaccines and coverings will assist decelerate the unfold of the virus and remedy sufferers at an early stage.
“As soon as home remedies are commercialized in early 2021, they may allow prevention, early detection and therapy of COVID-19, which may set up the nation’s antivirus system,” Park mentioned.
South Korean pharmaceutical firm Celltrion has been ready for emergency approval for its antibody coronavirus therapy, which it claimed successfully protects sufferers with gentle signs from growing a extreme case.
The vaccine procurement got here because the nation is grappling with the third wave of the pandemic on account of a string of cluster infections from personal gatherings and infection-prone services.
The nation added 594 extra COVID-19 instances, together with 566 native infections, on Tuesday, elevating the full caseload to 38,755, based on the Korea Illness Management and Prevention Company.
In response to the sharp hike in new instances, well being authorities earlier within the day raised the social distancing degree by one notch to 2.5, the second highest underneath the five-tier system, within the higher Seoul space to be efficient for the following three weeks.