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S. Korea, U.S. discuss bilateral vaccine swap: S. Korea's FM Updated: 2021-04-21 05:53:49 KST

South Korea and the U.S. are discussing a bilateral vaccine swap.
When asked at a National Assembly session on Tuesday, foreign minister Chung Eui-yong said the issue was discussed when U.S. climate envoy John Kerry visited Seoul over the weekend.

"We are discussing the issue seriously with the U.S. and talked intensively about the matter with climate envoy Kerry when he visited here."

A few months ago, the opposition People Power Party had suggested establishing a vaccine swap program where South Korea secures vaccines for emergency purposes from the U.S. and returns the borrowed amount later when it starts producing more vaccines.

Chung added that issues surrounding vaccines were also discussed with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken when he was in Seoul in March.
When asked whether he thinks Seoul's "strategic ambiguity" between Washington and Beijing would affect South Korea's vaccine procurement, the foreign minister added political issues and the vaccines are separate, regardless of whether Seoul joins the U.S.-led "Quad" coalition.
He added the U.S. and the EU see those issues as not linked in principle, calling it "decoupling".

Amid concerns on vaccine procurement, the South Korean health authorities have pledged to inoculate 12-million people in the first half of this year, and finish giving second doses to some 36-million people by November.

U.S. drugmaker Moderna, in the meantime, reportedly plans to set up a vaccine supply network in South Korea.
According to a report by a local market analyst, Moderna plans to set up subsidiaries in South Korea, Japan and Australia in 2021.
Yoon Jung-min, Arirang News.
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