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S/Korea to buy COVID-19 vaccines for 23 million people

South Korea has concluded plans to purchase coronavirus vaccines for 23 million more people.

Prime Minister  Chung Sye-kyun announced the plans on Tuesday, a day after the government said delays and efficacy concerns meant fewer people would be vaccinated in the first quarter of the year.

The deals include Novavax vaccines for 20 million people and Pfizer products for 3 million, Mr. Chung said in remarks at a meeting.

He said the government had been working to bring in sufficient early supplies, but there was growing uncertainty over the vaccination plan for the first half due to what he termed “production issues with global drugmakers and international competition”.

With an estimated population of 52 million, South Korea had already secured enough doses for 56 million people from COVAX, Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca as well as Johnson & Johnson, and is due to begin its first stage of vaccinations on February 26.

On Monday, Reuters reported the government as saying it would not use AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine on people aged sixty-five and older, reversing an earlier decision, and scaled back initial vaccination targets because of delayed shipments from global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX.

South Korea slashed its first-quarter target for how many people would be vaccinated from 1.3 million to less than 760,000, the Reuters report said.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 457 additional coronavirus cases as of midnight on Monday, bringing the country’s total to 84,325 with 1,534 deaths.

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