SEOUL (SOUTH KOREA) – South Korea said as many as 18,489 people were given the first dose of the AstraZeneca PLC shot by Friday midnight as the nation launched the ambitious COVID-19 inoculation drive. It will start using the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines on Saturday.
Those who first received the shots are healthcare workers, staff at assisted care facilities and high-risk people. The country hopes to vaccinate 32 million to 36 million people – some 60% to 70% of the population – by September.
By November, the government hopes to achieve herd immunity where at least a 70% vaccine take-up has taken place.
The first AstraZeneca vaccines are to be given to 289,000 people, while about 55,000 healthcare workers in coronavirus treatment centres will get the first batch of the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE supplied through the COVAX global vaccine-sharing initiative.
Apart from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and COVAX, South Korea has also struck deals with Moderna Inc, Novavax Inc and Johnson & Johnson with regard to coronavirus vaccines.
The nation marked 415 new cases on Friday. So far, there have been 89,321 infections and 1,595 COVID-19 fatalities, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said.
The government is mulling an extension of the social distancing curbs by two weeks as well as a ban on private gatherings of more than four, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said on Friday.