South Korea announced on Saturday that it signed a contract with Pfizer Inc to buy an additional 40 million shots of its coronavirus vaccine amid fears of rising infections at home.
That brings the current amount of Pfizer vaccines to 66 million jabs, it said in a statement.
It added that it had secured a total 192 million doses of vaccines, including those from AstraZeneca PLC, Moderna Inc, Novavax and Johnson & Johnson’s.
“The government has acquired COVID-19 vaccines large enough to vaccinate approximately 100 million people…(which) is double the entire population of South Korea,” Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol told a briefing.
“(The government) will make all out efforts to achieve its promise to vaccinate 12 million people by end of June and achieve herd immunity by November,” he added.
The deal comes a week after Pfizer Inc agreed to supply more vaccines to Japan by the end of September, which would be enough to vaccinate all people over 16.
Around 2.2 million South Koreans out of a population of 52 million have received their first vaccine shot, bringing the vaccination rate to just above 4%. The government’s goal is to reach 70% by November.
According to Reuters data, the low rate compares with a 41% rate in the United States.
On Friday, a Gallup Korea survey showed for the first time negative views outweighing positive views over the government’s handling of the pandemic and inoculations – 43% had positive views versus 85% last May, when daily infections were in the single digits.
The country reported 785 new infections as of Friday midnight, bringing the total tally to 118,243 and 1,812 fatalities.