This photo, taken Tuesday, shows a health worker administering a COVID-19 vaccine shot at a state-run inoculation center in western Seoul. (Yonhap)
South Korea said Wednesday 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines will come from Romania starting this week as part of a vaccine cooperation program with the eastern European country.
Romania will send 1.05 million Pfizer doses and 450,000 from Moderna, according to health authorities. The first shipment of 526,500 Pfizer doses will arrive Thursday, followed by the remaining half and the Moderna shots on Sept. 8.
The government bought the Pfizer doses from Romania, and the Moderna shots will be provided in exchange for medical supplies to the European nation.
"The vaccine cooperation is part of efforts to boost global solidarity and efficiency in tackling the pandemic," health authorities said.
The vaccines from Romania will be used to inoculate people aged between 18 and 49.
South Korea is ramping up vaccinations for the age group in a bid to give at least one shot to 70 percent of the 52 million population before the fall harvest Chuseok holiday set for Sept. 20-22.
The vaccines from Romania are expected to ease the shortage of COVID-19 vaccines that was sparked by Moderna's supply crunch.
Last month, the US vaccine maker said it will only be able to supply less than half of the planned 8.5 million doses for August.
After Seoul's protest, Moderna said it plans to provide South Korea with 7 million shots of its vaccine by Sept. 5, but uncertainty about vaccine supply still lingers.
A total of 29.27 million people, or 57 percent of the population, have received their first shots of vaccines, and 15.74 million people, or 30.7 percent, have been fully vaccinated.
The government plans to strengthen international cooperation on vaccine swaps and supplies.
In June, the US shipped 1.41 million doses of Janssen's single-shot vaccine. The shots were administered to 894,000 military-related personnel.
Under a bilateral vaccine swap deal, South Korea also received 782,000 Pfizer doses from Israel in July. (Yonhap)