South Korea to begin COVID-19 vaccination on Friday

ANKARA (AA) – South Korea will launch its vaccination campaign against COVID-19 on Friday, health authorities said on Tuesday.

According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Department, the drive will be launched by administering the vaccines of the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca starting Friday and those of the US drugmaker Pfizer's on Saturday.

South Korea has procured COVID-19 vaccines for 56 million people under the UN-led COVAX initiative and through separate contracts with foreign drug firms, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The country planned to receive 2.59 million doses of vaccines by AstraZeneca through the World Health Organization's global vaccine project, the agency said earlier on Feb. 4.

"The first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines procured through the COVAX Facility, enough to inoculate 58,000 people, are scheduled to arrive on Friday, Feb. 26, and will be administered to 55,000 hospital workers caring for COVID-19 patients starting Saturday," the country's health department said.

"The 1.5 million doses (for 750,000 people) produced by a domestic firm SK Bioscience will be delivered to distribution centers from Feb. 24 to 28. The first round of doses will be distributed to public health centers and convalescent hospitals nationwide on Feb. 25-28,” it added.

Over the past 24 hours, South Korea reported 357 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the caseload to 87,681.

With 11 more fatalities, the country's death toll rose to 1,573, according to the agency.

* Writing by Islamuddin Sajid.