SEOUL, Jan. 12 (Yonhap) -- Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Tuesday that the government is working to purchase additional coronavirus vaccines of a different platform to better ensure the safe inoculation of the public.
"The government has been working to purchase an additional quantity of vaccines of another platform and has seen substantial progress," Chung said during an interagency meeting on the COVID-19 response held at the government complex in Sejong, 120 kilometers south of Seoul.
Chung said the government will make an announcement when the deal is finalized.
According to authorities, the country has secured coronavirus vaccine doses for 56 million from four pharmaceutical companies and the World Health Organization's global vaccine project, known as COVAX.
The secured quantity as of now is more than enough to cover the country's population of 52 million. President Moon Jae-in announced Monday that the government will provide all South Korean people with free-of-charge COVID-19 vaccines in phases starting next month.
Despite the already secured quantity, authorities have been moving to secure an additional volume of vaccines due to lingering uncertainties, according to Chung.
"We don't know how long the immunity will last after inoculation, and safety problems could occur. If we can't speed up inoculations, we might have to outright discard the vaccines due to the short expiration period," Chung said.
The prime minister also assessed that the pandemic has shown signs of a slowdown since the weekend but cautioned against carelessness in social distancing and antivirus measures.
"Whether we will reach clear stabilization (of the virus situation) or again fall into resurgence due to disorderly carelessness will be decided this week," he said.
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