| 4 December 2021, Saturday |

S.Korea says it reaches target of 70% vaccinations for COVID-19

South Korea said on Saturday that it has achieved its target of inoculating 70 percent of its 52 million people, paving the way for a normal return next month.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said the target, set a month before the country kicked off its inoculation campaign in late February, was reached by 2 pm (0500 GMT), with some 36 million vaccinated.

The goal earlier met with uncertainty as the government grappled with global COVID-19 vaccine shortages and shipment delays. But despite its rough start, South Korea quickly ramped up its vaccination drive, thanks chiefly to expanded supplies and relatively high public acceptance, surpassing the United States and other early starters.

Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol said last week that the government will start a phased return to normal activities starting Nov. 1, putting forward the shift initially scheduled for mid-November.

‟It’s impossible to put an end to the pandemic by reaching herd immunity due to the spread of highly transmissible Delta variant,” the KDCA said in a statement.

‟But meeting the vaccination goal has significant meaning in reducing severe cases and fatality, and as an important precondition for a transition to phased recovery of our daily lives.”

South Korea has effectively managed to cope with the pandemic without imposing lockdowns seen in many other parts of the world, on the back of intensive testing and tracing.

But it has struggled to suppress its fourth COVID-19 wave since last summer, with new daily cases topping 3,000 for the first-time last month, though they brought fewer critical cases and deaths.

The KDCA reported 1,508 new cases for Friday.