S. Korea donates AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to Vietnam, Thailand

Posted on : 2021-10-13 17:46 KST Modified on : 2021-10-13 17:46 KST
South Korea's government sent 1.1 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine to Vietnam and 470,000 to Thailand on Tuesday
(Reuters/Yonhap News)
(Reuters/Yonhap News)

As part of its efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Korean government has opted to donate vaccines to Vietnam and Thailand.

The government said in a news release Tuesday that it was donating 1.1 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to Vietnam and 470,000 to Thailand — two countries hurting from the spread of the virus. Planes carrying the vaccines departed from Incheon International Airport on Tuesday and arrived in both destinations on Wednesday.

As of midnight Tuesday, 77.9% of the total Korean population had received at least one vaccine shot — a figure that jumps to over 90% when counting those 18 and older, the primary age group eligible for vaccination.

In explaining the reasoning behind the aid, the government said domestic distribution of second doses and booster shots will see no disruptions given the nation's scheduled vaccine supply.

The countries receiving vaccines were selected based on requests for support from countries struggling to secure vaccines, securing safety for overseas Koreans, nations targeted by Moon Jae-in’s New Southern Policy (NSP), and the scale of damage inflicted by COVID-19.

This is the first time Korea is directly donating vaccines to developing nations. Per the news release, Vietnam — a core partner country under the NSP — hosts an estimated 156,000 Korean residents and 9,000 Korean businesses. While in New York on Sept. 21, South Korean President Moon Jae-in pledged around a million doses of vaccine aid in his summit with Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Because Thailand is another core partner in the policy, South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha in August had discussed measures such as bilateral cooperation in vaccine development and production, the news release added. Thailand is home to an estimated 18,000 Koreans and 400 Korean businesses.

A Korean Foreign Ministry official said, "Once vaccines are delivered, Korean residents and natives will get inoculated without discrimination," adding, "The [donated] AstraZeneca vaccines expire in early December, so they can be used there without any problems."

The government also said it will monitor Korea's vaccine supply and demand and vaccination status, as well as consider additional assistance to countries needing vaccine support.

By Kim Ji-eun, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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