SEOUL, Nov. 17 (Yonhap) -- More than 30 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been offered to South Korea for purchase, the health minister said Tuesday.
"The combined amount (of vaccines) offered by (vaccine) companies to us surpasses 30 million doses," Health Minister Park Neunghoo said in a parliamentary session.
He was responding to Rep. Kim Mi-ae of the main opposition People Power Party who called on the minister to hasten the purchase of coronavirus vaccines.
"In contact with individual companies, the government is currently negotiating the volumes and the prices (of vaccines)," Park noted, adding that the government is bargaining for "reasonable prices."
He said the two U.S. companies -- Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. -- asked South Korea to quickly sign purchase contracts of COVID-19 vaccines, which he described as contrary to expectations.
On Monday, Moderna said its vaccine candidate was 94.5 percent effective. The news came just days after Pfizer announced that its experimental vaccine developed with BioNTech SE is more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.
South Korea "is not in an unfavorable situation in terms of vaccine procurement," the minister added.
Last week, the government said it seeks to purchase coronavirus vaccines to cover 60 percent of the population by this year. It said it plans to purchase 10 million doses through the global vaccine supply platform, COVAX Facility and another 20 million through separate negotiations with vaccine companies.
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