South Korea aims to speed up COVID-19 vaccinations to hit 70% goal

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Aug. 24 (UPI) — Health authorities in South Korea say they’re trying to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations in the country after almost 50 straight days of at least 1,000 new cases, due partly to the Delta variant.

Leaders and officials in Seoul are aiming to reach a vaccination goal of 70% by October, a protection rate that experts believe will allow South Koreans to begin living life as “normal,” or how things were before the pandemic.

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Seoul said that another 1,500 cases were recorded nationwide on Tuesday, the 49th straight day of at least 1,000. Most of the new cases were local transmissions.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said the government is trying to accelerate vaccinations, particularly for South Koreans in their 20s and 30s, many of whom are not vaccinated.

The Blue House said on Monday that South Korea will have 170 million doses available next year, including 90 million doses the government is planning to buy in 2022.

That figure represents more than three times South Korea’s population.

Health officials are considering a “Living with COVID-19” strategy when the 70% threshold is met, according to Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong. She said that strategy would allow normal activities in South Korea when vaccinations are “high enough to suppress deaths and hospitalizations” and keep the virus “under control.”

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South Korea has acquired almost 200 million vaccine doses this year, mainly from AstraZeneca and Pzifer-BioNTech.

Seoul has said it plans to offer booster shots during the first half of 2022.