This image, provided by Yonhap News TV, shows the logos of four major pharmaceutical companies that have developed vaccines for the new coronavirus. (Yonhap)
South Korea is pushing to move up the schedule in bringing in new coronavirus vaccines in a bid to get over half of the population inoculated before fall, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun has said.
"The government's program is to complete the formation of herd immunity by inoculating 60-70 percent of the population (with vaccines) before autumn comes," Chung said Monday on a debate program on MBC TV.
"Should the plan come through, South Korea will be one of the fastest countries to be liberated from the coronavirus pandemic," Chung added.
He also noted that authorities are working to speed up the vaccine procurement schedule.
"Pfizer was to ship its vaccines from the third quarter of this year, but the government and related corporations are putting in efforts to move up the schedule to as early as February," Chung said.
According to authorities, the country has secured coronavirus vaccine doses for 56 million from four pharmaceutical companies and the World Health Organization's global vaccine project, known as COVAX.
The volume is more than enough to cover the country's population of 52 million.
AstraZeneca's vaccines will be first shipped around February and March, followed by Janssen's and Moderna's in the second quarter and Pfizer's in the third quarter, according to health officials.
On Monday, the country's drug safety agency said it has begun the approval process for the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca. (Yonhap)