South Korea to roll out Moderna COVID-19 vaccines in June, reports say

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May 24 (UPI) — South Korea is to receive its first doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, but the shipment may not be enough to reverse the trend of rising COVID-19 infections in the country, which has reported hundreds of new cases daily for weeks.

Son Young-rae, a spokesman for Seoul’s ministry of health and welfare, said Monday that 55,000 doses of the U.S. vaccine are to arrive May 31 for distribution, Seoul Shinmun reported.

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The products are to be inspected by the nation’s ministry of food and drug safety. The approval process could take weeks, and the vaccines may not be available to the public until mid-June, according to Newsis.

South Korea has contracted to import 40 million doses of the Moderna vaccine.

Confirmation of the delivery comes after a South Korean business delegation traveled with President Moon Jae-in to the United States for his first summit with President Joe Biden.

Stephane Bancel, chief executive of Moderna, had said last week Moderna vaccines manufactured in Europe are to be exported to Korea, according to South Korean network SBS. The vaccines were manufactured in Spain, Newsis reported.

According to South Korean government data, 5.54 million doses, including AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines, have been administered in the country. Only 3.4% or 1.75 million people had been fully vaccinated by Monday.

Cooperation is accelerating between U.S. and South Korean firms.

Samsung Biologics and Moderna signed a deal Saturday to manufacture the Moderna vaccine at a South Korean plant. Moderna also signed a memorandum of understanding with Seoul to “strive” for investments in mRNA vaccine production facilities in South Korea, Yonhap reported.

AstraZeneca, Novavax and Sputnik V vaccines are already being produced in Korea, according to the report.