S. Korea inks coronavirus vaccine deal with AstraZeneca
SEOUL, Dec. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has signed a deal with British-Swedish bio giant AstraZeneca Plc. to purchase the company's COVID-19 vaccine, health officials said Thursday.
Seoul, however, didn't disclose the details of the contract, including financial terms and the amount of vaccines to be bought.
"(South Korea) recently signed a vaccine supply deal with AstraZeneca," an official said on customary condition of anonymity. "The government plans to announce the overall results of negotiations with coronavirus vaccine developers next week."
Two jabs of the AstraZeneca vaccine are needed to cure COVID-19 patients, with the vaccine showing efficacy of 70-90 percent in phase 3 trials.
AstraZeneca has said it will sell the vaccine at US$3 to $5 per dose.
South Korea has reportedly been in negotiations to buy five COVID-19 vaccine candidates, developed by AstraZeneca, the Pfizer-BioNTech partnership, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is much cheaper than those developed by other companies and can be kept long term at 2 C to 8 C, while the Pfizer-BioNTech requires a much lower temperature of minus 70 C.
In July this year, SK Bioscience Co., a vaccine unit of South Korea's SK Group, inked a deal with AstraZeneca to produce its vaccines once they are ready.
South Korea with a population of about 50 million is reportedly seeking to secure enough COVID-19 vaccines to vaccinate 30 million people. The government recently said it will spend 900 billion won ($820 million) next year to vaccinate some 44 million people.
Since its first outbreak here in late January, the new coronavirus has infected some 35,700 South Koreans, with the country's death toll reaching 529 as of Thursday.
Major N. Korean websites offline as of Tuesday morning
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