President Moon Jae-in at the New Year press conference. (Yonhap)
This is an excerpt from President Moon Jae-in’s New Year press conference. -- Ed.
Q. Do you regret not procuring vaccines earlier?
A. No. Vaccines will be rolled out sufficiently quickly, and a sufficient amount has been secured. As they are newly developed vaccines, risk has been distributed by purchasing many different vaccines. As inoculations take time, and there is the matter of storage time, vaccines will be brought in in stages. The plan is to start in February and complete the first stage inoculations for those who require vaccines by September, and herd immunity will begin to be achieved by then. Those who are left out will be inoculated in the fourth quarter and herd immunity will be completed by November at the latest.
The time of inoculations, and herd immunity being established in Korea, is not late compared to other countries, in contrast I think it will be quicker in Korea.
The disease control authorities have announced that the first inoculations will be in late February or early March, and there is possibility that (vaccines) secured through COVAX will arrive first. If so, I have been briefed that the start of inoculations could be brought forward. This is not set, I only say that this is a possibility. The disease control authorities will establish the plan and report to the public.
A word to the people, the public is holding up in difficult times, but the number of confirmed patients dropped into the 300s today, and it is clear that the third wave is subsiding. If the numbers remain under 400 this week, then easing of disease control measures can be expected. If the public remains alert and comes through this difficult time, vaccinations will begin next month and treatments will also be rolled out, then (Korea) can become the country that revives the economy and everyday life faster than any other country.