ANKARA (AA) – South Korea on Tuesday said the country has secured a deal with four pharmaceutical companies to supply COVID-19 vaccine for 44 million people, reported the local media.
According to Health Ministry, the country has preordered 64 million doses of vaccines from AstraZeneca Inc., Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson's Janssen, and Moderna -- for 34 million people, while the World Health Organization's global vaccine project will supply vaccines for 10 million people, South Korea’s key news outlet, Yonhap News Agency reported.
The ministry said they have signed a deal with AstraZeneca and will ink contracts with the other three companies later this month. The country has allocated $1.2 billion for the vaccination program.
"As developments of vaccines are not yet completed, and there are still concerns over their safety and efficacy, we will flexibly decide the vaccination schedule considering various factors," the agency reported while quoting Health Minister Park Neunghoo.
The preordered vaccines are enough to cover 88% of the nation's population.
As per the government plan, the vaccines will be first administered to elderly people, front-line health workers, and then to the rest of the population.
South Korea reported 594 new coronavirus cases during the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 38,755, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
With three more deaths, total fatalities from the deadly virus also rose to 552.
The fresh spreading of the virus in the capital Seoul and surrounding areas has forced health authorities to raise the alert level to 2.5, the second-highest under the five-tier system, from Tuesday for the next three weeks.
Gatherings of more than 50 people are banned and facilities such as gyms and karaoke bars will be closed. Restaurants, theatres, and other venues majorly used by the public will not operate after 9 p.m.
*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid