The government will launch a joint monitoring and decision-making system with related agencies to provide a full compensation to those who experience side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine, the Finance Ministry said Tuesday.
Along with the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency and Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, the ministry will set up the system to better respond to emergent cases and study correlations between vaccines and adverse reactions, as well as to make decisions on whether to proceed with vaccinations.
The government will distribute its vaccine doses previously secured for 56 million people from four pharmaceutical companies and the World Health Organization, in phases starting next month.
In response to concerns over the extra costs incurred by increasing the total volume of vaccines the country has secured from the amount that it could inoculate 44 million people to 56 million people, the ministry said it would be able to handle the expenditure with reserve funds.
The country also plans to invest 130 billion won ($117 million) into development and clinical trials of local firms’ homegrown vaccines and treatment drugs, said Vice Finance Minister Kim Yong-beom.
The majority of the budget will be funneled from 94 billion won out of the third extra budget worth 35.1 trillion won passed by the National Assembly in July last year, Kim hinted. The 94 billion won was set aside for clinical trials of local treatment drugs and vaccine development.
Such plans show that the prevention of further spread of COVID-19 will be a key factor in determining the recovery path of the economy down the road.
Expressing hopes for an economic rebound, Kim urged bolstering quarantine capacity.
Along with coronavirus containment measures, the ministry will focus on providing relief funds to small businesses stung by state-imposed shutdowns over virus cases and the self-employed reeling from the economic fallout of the pandemic.
The government plans to offer 90 percent of its third round of emergency handouts worth 9.3 trillion won by the Lunar New Year’s holiday -- Feb. 11-13 -- but the fourth batch of aid funding is not under consideration for now, he said.
The Finance Ministry will inject 110 trillion won into supporting investment projects this year, up 10 percent from a year earlier, and provide 23 trillion won of policy financing into facility investment.
The 110 trillion-won stimulus package will be carved up into three main sections -- 65 trillion won has been earmarked for public agencies to build affordable housing and nurture renewable energy sectors, 17.3 trillion won is earmarked for funding private sector-led projects and 28 trillion won is for infrastructure in emerging business sectors.
By Park Han-na and Jung Min-kyung