South Korea starts national Covid vaccination drive with AstraZeneca

Photo: AP President Moon Jae-in and Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong watch the first vaccination. Seoul, 26 February.

South Korea on Friday launched nationwide drive to vaccinate the population against Covid-19. The first vaccine to be administered was made by AstraZeneca, dpa reported.

A 61-year-old geriatric nurse received the first injection in Seoul shortly before the nationwide drive kicked off, South Korean broadcaster KBS reported.

South Korean President Moon Jae In has promised the country's 52 million people a free vaccination. More than 5,000 caregivers and patients in 213 care and rehabilitation facilities were to get jabs first.

Contrary to previous plans, the health authorities initially excluded people aged 65 and over from getting the AstraZeneca vaccine. There is not enough data on its effectiveness in the elderly.

Initially, 1.5 million vaccine doses are to be available in South Korea, sufficient for a first and second jab for 750,000 people. The doses are produced by the local company SK Bioscience under license from AstraZeneca.

Inoculations with another vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech should start on Saturday.

South Korea wants to give all citizens a first jab by the third quarter of this year and achieve "herd immunity" by November.

The Asian country has managed the pandemic relatively successfully so far. However, coronavirus-related restrictions have been tightened again since the end of 2020 as the number of new infections creeps up again. A total of 406 new coronavirus infections were confirmed on Thursday. The total number of people infected climbed to almost 89,000.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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