BACK on the local front NOW.
A MORE AGGRESSIVE STANCE has been ADOPTED by authorities here in EFFORTS to SECURE vaccines amid CONCERNS about POTENTIAL DELAYS in public inoculation.
I have Kim Dami with more.
Good afternoon, Sunhee.
So what's the latest on the government's vaccine procurement plan?
Moderna will be providing 40 million doses to Korea -- which is enough for 20 million people.
President Moon Jae-in held a video call with Moderna CEO on Monday evening, Korea time.
That figure is double what Korea was initially planning to buy and distribution will also begin earlier than planned.
The top office said the country would finalize a contract with Moderna before the end of the year -- so in the next few days.
South Korean government also plans to secure 10 million vaccines from the COVAX Facility in the first quarter of 2020.
The country has also signed separate vaccine deals with AstraZeneca and Pfizer.
If everything goes as planned, vaccines from COVAX and AstraZeneca will be available for distribution starting in the first quarter of next year, and those from Janssen and Pfizer in the second and third quarter respectively.
I believe President Moon Jae-in has also sought to reassure the public.
Yes. President Moon said on Monday, that Korea will start its vaccination campaign next February, and that preparations are going smoothly despite concerns over a lack of supplies and delays in the vaccination campaign.
(Dec. 28, 2020)
The government expects to start administering vaccines from February for those at the top of the priority list, such as medical staff and workers at elderly care facilities.
As some vaccines, like Pfizer's, need to be stored at low temperatures, the government is also looking to operate up to 250 separate vaccination centers equipped with cold-chain systems.
Health authorities say negotiations for more vaccine doses are underway in case of an emergency, citing threats such as the latest global resurgence and possible disruptions in the vaccine supply chain.
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"The vaccines for 46 million people, which the government has currently purchased or is planning to buy, accounts for 88-percent of the population. And taking into consideration those who are eligible for the vaccines, it is over 100-percent. So, we consider it to be enough to achieve herd immunity."
The government stressed that transparency is key, and said it will unveil details on the vaccination plan in January next year.
It's been TWO WEEKS since the U.S. began its vaccination campaign and U.S. service members stationed here in Korea are now receiving their shots as well?
Right. U.S. Forces Korea has started administering COVID-19 vaccines to its medical personnel.
The USFK official said that the inoculation starts at U.S. bases in Osan, Gunsan and Pyeongtaek on Tuesday.
Korean service members attached to the U.S. Army, better known as KATUSAs, could also be eligible for the inoculation.
Seoul's defense ministry said Monday that the USFK made an official request to hold talks over this matter.
Before you go Dami what is the latest with regard to the NEW STRAIN of the coronavirus that has ALSO been DETECTED here in Korea?
Health authorities say the three passengers are all family members who flew in from London a week ago.
On top of that, the authorities are closely monitoring the family of a man in his 80s, who came back from the UK on December 13th, and tested positive for COVID-19 post-mortem.
Three of his family members also tested positive, which prompted the government to look into whether they contracted the new variant.
To prevent the further spread of the variant, health authorities have imposed new travel restrictions on the UK, including an extension of its flight ban from the UK for one more week until January 7th.
(KOREAN - ) December 28, 2020
"Those coming in from the UK and Republic of South Africa -- including layovers -- will also be obligated to submit a PCR negative confirmation. Korean nationals are also included on the list so that all people entering the country will have to submit it."
With the exception of state, diplomatic and humanitarian missions, new visas will be not issued for those coming from the UK and South Africa.
With more countries reporting cases of the new variant, health authorities have decided to conduct further tests on all arrivals before they are discharged from quarantine, and check whether they have the variant -- if they test positive.
An expert says the variant could have a major impact on the future course of the outbreak.
"Based on the data so far, it is believed the variant is 70 percent more infectious, and based on mathematical modeling it is 56-percent more infectious. Even if it isn't more fatal, if it is more transmittable, so more new cases might come out."
The expert added that health authorities should closely monitor the situation in other countries where the new variant is being reported.
Thank you for joining us today.