South Korea has acquired enough vaccines over the weekend to cover 20 million people, health authorities said.
The country has closed a deal with Pfizer and secured another 40 million vaccine doses in the middle of worries on vaccine shortage.
The vaccine supply was secured following the two video meetings between the vaccine developer, Pfizer, and the country’s Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol last April 9 and 23.
The new deal has provided the country with 192 million doses sufficient to vaccinate the whole population of 52 million people.
But health authorities refused to publicize the delivery details of 40 million doses, citing confidentiality.
“Through the additional purchase contract, we have not only secured sufficient amounts to achieve herd immunity by November, but it has also provided a foundation to hasten the timeline,” Kwon stated on Saturday’s emergency conference.
“We will be able to prepare for global uncertainties in vaccine supply, as well as for additional demands that may occur in the future such as a third inoculation [booster shot] against mutant viruses and expansion of the age of inoculation targets under the age of 18,” the health minister said, who also heads the vaccine introduction task force of the government.
Last December, the government secured contracts with the same vaccine developer to vaccinate 10 million people. An additional 3 million people were secured to be covered by the vaccine through a deal signed in February.
The latest vaccine deal provided the country with a total of 66 million doses from Pfizer, which is enough to cover 33 million people.
Some 250, 000 doses from Pfizer have been delivered to the country every Wednesday since Pfizer sent its first batch of doses on March 24.
“59 million doses [of Pfizer vaccines for 29.5 million people] will be delivered sequentially from July,” according to a health official.
After the announcement, the People Power Party (PPP) raised queries on whether the new contract would usher towards herd immunity by November this year.
“We have heard countless ambiguous words about signing or securing additional vaccine supplies,”according to PPP spokesperson, Yun Hee-suk. “[The government] should specify a date when the supplies will be delivered.”
President Moon Jae-in last December announced that the country will get 40 million vaccine doses from Moderna, another vaccine developer from America. The deal was secured following the virtual conference between Moon and the CEO of the pharmaceutical company.