SEOUL, Sept 15 (Reuters) - South Korea said on Tuesday it
plans to spend $146 million to procure coronavirus vaccines,
initially aiming to secure a supply for 30 million people, or
60% of its population, as it battles persistent outbreaks of new
The population target is higher than a World Health
Organization (WHO) goal for the early purchase of supplies for
20% of the world's most vulnerable people, and at least 40%
agreed by European Union nations, Britain and EU partners for
While South Korean authorities would like to inoculate the
entire population of 52 million, uncertainty around any
vaccine's safety, efficacy and development was limiting
investment, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a cabinet
Global vaccine makers are racing to develop an effective
vaccine against the virus that has killed more than 925,000
people since it emerged in China late last year.
Chung said the government would negotiate with relevant
international organisations and vaccine makers to secure the
supply and would buy more as developments unfolded.
In August, South Korea said it planned to join the COVAX
facility, a global novel coronavirus vaccine allocation plan
co-led by the WHO, which aims to help buy and fairly distribute
South Korea will buy 20 million doses of vaccine from the
COVAX scheme, enough for 10 million people, and 40 million doses
from private drug-makers, health authorities said in a
The government has prepared 172 billion won ($146 million)
to pay for vaccines, including $70 million for the 20 million
doses from the COVAX facility.
South Korea has been one of the worlds coronavirus
mitigation success stories, with an aggressive testing and
tracing strategy, but it has nevertheless been battling
persistent spikes in infections.
It reported 106 new coronavirus cases as of Monday, taking
total infections to 22,391 with 367 deaths.
SK Bioscience in July agreed to manufacture AstraZenecas
experimental vaccine, which has shown promise, and
signed a deal with Novavax Inc last month to produce a
component of the U.S. drug developer's experimental coronavirus
($1 = 1,179.8300 won)
(Reporting by Sangmi Cha; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa,