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S. Korea prepares return to normalcy as health authorities expect to reach 70% of population fully vaccinated Updated: 2021-10-21 09:59:35 KST

South Korea is now just days away from the start of what authorities are calling "Living with COVID-19."
Authorities said Wednesday that they're currently drafting a comprehensive plan so the nation can return to normal routines closely resembling those we enjoyed before the pandemic.
But first,.. it's critical that infection numbers remain low and vaccination numbers high.
Now to answer some questions about the latest coronavirus developments, joining us is our COVID-19 correspondent Kim Yeon-seung.

Thank you for having me.

Now let's start off with the numbers.
How's Thursday looking?

Right, so what we're seeing right now is a mild wave of ups and downs in COVID-19 figures.
South Korea on Thursday reported 1,441 new cases
Although this figure is about 400 cases higher than what we've seen early in the week, it's actually the lowest tally that the country has seen on a Thursday in 14 weeks.
So Thursday's tally blends into an overall downward trend that the country has been seeing lately.
What stands out as noteworthy from recent cases, however, is the high proportion of Delta cases among local infections.
Health authorities identified close to 3,400 variant cases last week, and all but three of them were the highly contagious Delta strain.
But these three were imported cases, so among local infections, 100 percent of variant cases were Delta.

Right then.. how is South Korea currently doing in terms of its vaccination campaign?

South Korea's top health official says the country will soon have 70 percent of the population fully vaccinated sometime around this weekend or by Monday next week.
And this milestone is important as it is seen as a pre-condition for the resumption of pre-pandemic life.
South Korea's vaccination rate reported on Thursday stands at 67.four percent and with this momentum, there's a good chance the vaccination rate might even reach 80 percent by next month.
But along with an increase in vaccinations,.. there has also been a climb in breakthrough cases.
One out of four people tested positive in the first week of October were actually fully vaccinated individuals.
Johnson and Johnson recipients in South Korea saw one of the highest rates of breakthrough infections.
It was five times that seen in Pfizer recipients and close to 40 times found with people jabbed with the Moderna vaccine.

Speaking of Johnson and Johnson, we did talk earlier about the U.S. looking to approve boosters for those who've gotten the Johnson and Johnson vaccine shots.
How is that decision coming along?

The U.S. FDA also just authorized booster shots for people who've had not only the Johnson and Johnson, but also the Moderna shots.
What's different about the Johnson and Johnson shot, however, its recipients can get the booster just two months after their latest shot, if they are aged 18 and over.
For Moderna and Pfizer recipients, only people 65 or over or those considered high risk can get the shot, and it's recommended that they get a booster at least six months after the final shot of the two-round vaccination.
The agency is also allowing a "mix and match" approach, where people can get a different type of jab from the one they originally had.
This expands the U.S.' booster campaign to include tens of millions more people and gives more flexibility to health services.

Are there any other policies that the U.S. is planning to expand vaccinations?

The Biden administration is currently preparing to vaccinate millions of children aged 5 to 11.
U.S. officials on Wednesday outlined a plan for vaccinating children and said they've already acquired enough vaccines for roughly 28 million kids.
Part of that plan involves inoculating children in pediatric offices to provide a more comfortable environment for the children when they get their jabs.
Anthony Fauci, the nation??s top infectious-disease specialist, says this a step that is critical in curbing the spread.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to announce its decision some time in November.

Thank you for that report. We'll talk to you again tomorrow.

Looking forward to it.
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