Increased vaccination in South Korea adds impetus to Asia’s momentum

South Korea is on track to vaccinate three-quarters of its population of 52 million against Covid-19 over the next three months as vaccine launches in East Asian governments gain momentum after early delays.

Seoul health officials revealed plans Thursday to expand vaccination program to the general public after vaccinating 13 million people, a quarter of the population, two weeks ahead of schedule.

The significant increase in vaccinations comes after Asian countries, which have outperformed Europe and the United States in their initial responses to the coronavirus pandemic, fell behind Western counterparts this year in locking and delivering punches.

East Asia’s struggles are attributed to the lack of local manufacturers of Covid vaccines, as well as inertia on the part of policy makers after early success Virus suppression.

A strong rebound in export growth and signs of inflationary pressures are masked Weakest local recoveries Across the region amid continued social distancing and restrictions on travel, tourism and mass events.

Société Générale analysts described China’s lack of an acceleration in domestic consumption in particular as a “major concern”, as the country’s retail and service sectors remain underperforming and export recovery Set to moderate.

Seoul is in talks with other governments about quickly easing travel restrictions while accelerating the vaccination campaign.

“The stagnation in the services sector – travel, retail, restaurants and hotels – is making it difficult to establish a positive cycle for the economy, despite strong exports,” said Park Chung-hoon, head of research at Standard Chartered in Seoul.

South Korea will also allow citizens to be vaccinated with different doses as part of a plan to overcome supply shortages and reach its goal of herd immunity by November. This means that about 760,000 people, including health care workers who initially received the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines, can receive their second dose with the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine.

“Things seem to be going as planned by the government, with little public resistance against vaccinations,” said Kim Tak, professor of infectious diseases at Sun Chun Hyang University Hospital.

South Korea’s vaccination rate has surpassed that of neighboring Japan, despite Tokyo’s rush to vaccinate citizens ahead of the Olympics in July. While both countries barely started their campaign in April, cumulative doses per 100 people in South Korea have jumped to more than 30 in recent days, compared to just over 20 in Japan.

China, which has also suffered initial delays, has provided more than 900 million doses to its 1.4 billion people.

Jeong Eun-kyeong, head of the Korea Agency for Disease Control and Prevention, said 80 million doses will reach South Korea in the third quarter of the year, including 10 million doses in July.

There is hope for a return to normal life. . . But we cannot stop the spread of the virus in the community at the current vaccination rate.”

To encourage vaccination, South Korea is offering incentives such as allowing vaccinated people to go outside without masks and waiving restrictions on gatherings of more than four people. Vaccination sites are also being expanded to include companies that have their own medical facilities.

Domestic trust has been boosted by a series of business deals between South Korean biopharma groups and leading foreign vaccine developers.

SK Bioscience has been contracted to produce AstraZeneca clots for local use and export. It also signed a licensing agreement with Novavax To produce 40 million doses for South Korea in addition to a contract manufacturing deal for global supply.

Samsung Biologics, the country’s largest drugmaker, plans to start production of the Moderna vaccine in the second half of the year for South Korea and the global market, excluding the United States. Another biotechnology, GL Rapha, will produce doses of Russian Sputnik V for global use.

Additional reporting by Sherry Fei Guo in Beijing

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