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(LEAD) S. Korea nears deal to buy Novavax COVID-19 vaccines

All News 15:41 January 12, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in 3rd para, graphic)

SEOUL, Jan. 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is close to striking a deal to purchase COVID-19 vaccines for 10 million people from U.S. drugmaker Novavax, according to informed sources Tuesday.

The Seoul government has been negotiating with Novavax to secure its vaccines as early as in the second quarter of this year, sources with knowledge of the issue said.

In August 2020, Novavax signed a development and supply deal with Korean bio firm SK Bioscience Co. to supply vaccines in global markets.

(LEAD) S. Korea nears deal to buy Novavax COVID-19 vaccines - 1

The government earlier said it has secured access to COVID-19 vaccines for 56 million people from four pharmaceutical companies and the World Health Organization's global vaccine project, known as COVAX.

The deals include 20 million doses each from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna, which require two shots, and 6 million doses from Johnson & Johnson's Janssen, which requires one shot.

While the secured quantity is more than the nation's 52 million population, authorities have been working to secure an additional volume of vaccines due to lingering uncertainties surrounding inoculation, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said earlier in the day.

Novavax vaccines can be shipped and stored at standard refrigeration temperatures as opposed to mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that require freezing temperatures.

President Moon Jae-in said Monday that the government will provide all South Korean people with free-of-charge COVID-19 vaccines in phases starting next month.

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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