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Nearly 2m vaccinated in S. Korea as inoculation rollout speeds up


South Korea has inoculated nearly 2 million people so far as the country ramps up its COVID-19 immunization drive by providing more shots and securing more doses.

An accumulated 1,903,767 people were administered with their first shots as of Wednesday as part of the nationwide campaign that kicked off on Feb. 26, accounting for 3.66 percent of the country's 52 million population, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

An accumulated 60,622 people have been fully vaccinated after receiving two doses.

Of the total, 1,141,154 people, mostly health care workers and patients at long-term care facilities, received the first jabs of the two-dose vaccine regimen developed by British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and Oxford University, the KDCA said.

Meanwhile, 762,613 people received the first shot of US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc.'s two-dose vaccine regimen, the KDCA said. The group mostly includes doctors, nurses and other health professionals treating COVID-19 patients, and elders aged 75 and older.

The KDCA noted that an average of 130,000 people have been inoculated every day recently, up highly from an average of 18,000 people during the first week of the vaccination campaign.

The authorities aim to complete inoculating 3 million people by the end of this month and 12 million people by end-June, with a goal of achieving herd immunity by November.

The accelerating inoculations come amid woes over a potential delay in vaccine supplies, which could take the nationwide inoculation scheme off schedule.

The KDCA earlier announced that it has secured enough coronavirus vaccines to inoculate 79 million people, yet the arrival schedule has only been finalized for AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines.

Adding to woes, safety controversies over the AstraZeneca vaccine have complicated the inoculation campaign as the products make up about 60 percent of the country's rollout for the first half of the year.

The country was again taken aback by the United States' decision to pause the use of Johnson & Johnson's Janssen products over blood clotting.

The authorities have planned to receive 6 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The bottles are scheduled to be provided in the third quarter, yet the shipment schedule is not finalized.

To stave off a potential supply shortage, the Seoul government said earlier it is seeking a "vaccine swap" agreement with the United States, but such a deal may not happen at least for the time being after a US State Department spokesman said his country is currently focused on vaccinating Americans.

On Wednesday, President Moon Jae-in also ordered his aides to review the possibility of introducing Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.

On Thursday, the country reported 735 more COVID-19 cases, the highest since Jan. 7 when the country reported 869 cases, the KDCA said. The total caseload was increased to 116,661. (Yonhap)

Published : April 22, 2021

By : The Korea Herald