South Korea’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout halt as new cases hit record high – .

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South Korea’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout halt as new cases hit record high – .


Women walk on an empty street amid tightened social distancing rules due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Seoul, South Korea, July 12, 2021. REUTERS / Heo Ran

  • Photo bookings for 1.67 million people aged 55 to 59 waiting for a week
  • Government website crashes, available supplies are now booked
  • The vaccination rate has slowed sharply in recent weeks due to the shortage
  • South Korea records highest number of daily COVID cases on Tuesday

SEOUL, July 13 (Reuters) – South Korea’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccination for people aged 55 to 59 was on hold for a week after a record number of new cases sparked a rush for vaccines, depleting available supplies and crashing an official reservation site.

The end of vaccination appointments for people in the upper 50 age bracket came late Monday, the first day that vaccination bookings were opened to those under 60. Daily infections had risen to 1,440 by 9 p.m. Tuesday, the country’s highest daily tally of the pandemic and an eighth consecutive day of more than 1,000 cases, the Yonhap news agency reported. Read more

As South Korea is ahead of its schedule of immunization targets, the pace has slowed sharply in recent weeks to around 30,000 doses per day from a peak of 850,000 earlier, as it finalizes the schedules of ‘expedition to begin Moderna (MRNA.O) COVID-19 inoculations for people in their 50s. Read more

“Due to high demand, 1.85 million doses of Moderna have been fully booked and bookings for those who were unable to register will resume on July 19,” the Korea Testing Agency said. of Disease Prevention (KDCA) in a press release. In total, around 3.52 million people aged 55 to 59 were eligible to register, leaving another 1.67 million people to reserve photos.

About 11.6% of the country’s 52 million people completed the vaccination, including receiving both vaccines for products requiring two doses, while 30.4% received one dose, according to government data.

South Korea expects to receive at least 9 million more doses this month, but the government has not released the exact schedule, citing a nondisclosure agreement with vaccine makers.

Health officials sought to reassure the public on Tuesday that an adequate supply of vaccines would be assured in August for the 55-59 age group who could not book on Monday and for others in their 50s, said a KDCA manager during a briefing.

“We deeply apologize for not giving advance notice of the possibility of an early shutdown,” the official said.

Uncertainty over vaccine supply has led to public outcry, with authorities accused by the media and members of the public of being seriously under-prepared.

“The government made it clear that the reservation opens from Monday and some busy people thought they could book safely the next day,” Chun Eun-mi, respiratory disease specialist at the medical center, told Reuters Seoul scholar Ewha Womans.

“Now they will have to compete for their shots and their turn will be delayed for at least a week,” Chun said.

A mass testing system has helped the country experience lower COVID-19 death rates than other developed countries so far without a severe lockdown.

But the new wave of infections prompted the government to impose the tightest restrictions to date in the capital Seoul and neighboring areas from Monday, including a ban on gatherings of more than two people after 6 p.m. after

The latest clusters have seen far fewer serious infections than previous ones, with many older and more vulnerable South Koreans now being vaccinated against the virus. The new cases brought South Korea’s total to 170,296, with 2,048 deaths, according to KDCA data.

But health officials have expressed concerns about growing infections in young patients who have yet to receive vaccines, and the spread of the Delta variant, which accounted for about 63% of recent more transmissible variants.

Reporting by Hyonhee Shin, Sangmi Cha; Josh Smith Additional Reports; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Nick Macfie

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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