South Koreans will start receiving the total of 117, 000 initial doses of coronavirus disease vaccine by Pfizer on February 27, according to the prime minister on Sunday.
The administration of the Pfizer brand follows shortly after the first vaccinations from another vaccine developer AstraZeneca.
By this, the government plans to have about 10 million people who are considered high-risk to the disease to be vaccinated by July.
Included in this group are health care workers, staffers and a number of residents of nursing homes as well as assisted care facilities.
In a report published by Yonhap News Agency, the first AstraZeneca vaccines are set to be delivered out on Friday while those from Pfizer are scheduled on the following day.
“On Feb. 26, 117,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines will arrive in the country and the vaccines will be administered to medical staff treating coronavirus patients starting on Feb. 27,” the prime minister was quoted saying by Yonhap during a government meeting.
Contrary to their earlier decisions, authorities said AstraZeneca will no longer be administered to people aged 65 and older, as they cited efficacy concerns.
Apart from AstraZeneca and Pfizer, the country has also closed deals with a number of vaccine developers including Novavax Inc, Moderna, and Johnson $ Johnson.
It has also reached an agreement with COVAX, a global vaccine-sharing arrangement for vaccine supply backed by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Pfizer is expected to have 3 million people covered by its vaccines while with Novavax, with additional deals closed, will be sufficient to have 20 million people covered, according to Chung’s announcement last week.
This pushes the country’s total vaccine supply to be sufficient for 79 million people, all while it only has 52 million population.
Last week, the defense ministry said that the country has conducted its final simulation exercise for the planned transport of COVID-19 vaccines. Participants had rehearsed the moving of AstraZeneca vaccines from Andong city, particularly at the factory of SK Bioscience Co., towards the 25 health centers nationwide.
The said drill followed the first one that was conducted at Incheon International Airport.
With the vaccine agreements and the completion of drills, the country is targeting to attain herd immunity by November.
Experts, however, are quite pessimistic regarding the time frame and the identified goal.
As of midnight on Sunday, the country’s COVID-19 cases have reached 87, 324 after the addition of 332 more cases.
Death toll also increased at 1, 562 after five more COVID-19 deaths were logged.