Let's move on to our Kwon Soa who is back here at the desk with us for the latest government remarks on COVID-19 here in the country. We will start with some good news on the vaccine supply front,?
The government this Tuesday has announced that Moderna vaccines manufactured by Korea's pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics will soon be supplied here in the nation. Here's the announcement made by the Second Vice Health Minister earlier this morning.
"The first batch of 2-million-435-thousand Moderna vaccine doses manufactured under contract by Samsung Biologics is scheduled to be distributed in the country sometime this week. Also, Samsung Biologics earned full certification from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety on Monday regarding its manufacturing process and quality control. Based on these latest developments and upon request from the KDCA, the Ministry granted emergency-use authorization for the use of these vaccines.”
More specifically, the firm had to obtain the Good Manufacturing Practices certification and product approval from the drug ministry. Samsung Biologics had recently started mass production of the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine for commercial use, and eventually also expected for overseas shipment on the heels of a contract made with the U.S. biotech firm back in May during a state trip by President Moon Jae-in.
Following SK Bioscience's manufacturing of AstraZeneca vaccines, Moderna is now the second one to be made AND used at home. Korea also produces vaccines for Novavax and Sputnik V. Officials say, not only will Korea's domestic vaccine supply be given a boost, but also it is in line with the country aiming to become a global vaccine hub.
Who will be subject to these vaccines?
Now supply seems adequate for the time being, but is the vaccination process going along smoothly as well to help us reach our next target?
That's a question raised at the earlier government briefing as well, with the second vice health minister stressing that the next goal, which would be fully vaccinating 80 percent of the population is easily achievable.
“We’ve now vaccinated around 79.5 percent of our population with at least one dose. Among them,… as far as we know,… people who won't be getting their second doses… account for less than 1 percent,… or around 0.7 percent to be exact. Given the progress in our ongoing vaccination campaign,… we’re confident of fully vaccinating at least 80 percent of the nation’s people.
Soa, let's wrap up with the latest assessment on our daily tallies by the government.
Sunny,.. although daily cases remain at above 1,000, health officials have observed another weekly decline. In the span between October 17th to the 23rd, there has been a drop by 14.3 percent in infections, with both the capital region and non-capital regions showing a steady downward trend.
With that, cases have been going down for the third straight week, and comparing the figure to the last week of September, which so far is the peak of the fourth wave, a drop by 46 percent has been recorded. The reproduction rate of the virus stands at below 1 for three weeks as well, at 0.88.
Movement across the nation however rose by 3.7 percent, attributed to higher vaccination rates and anticipation towards the gradual return to pre-pandemic lives.
Meanwhile, the number of people in serious or critical condition has dropped by 25 to 343 people, while 101 have lost their lives in the past week.
Medical capacity is stable, with 57.7 percent of hospital beds for critically ill patients available as of this Monday. In regards to treatment of COVID-19 patients once we shift to the living with the virus scheme, an official had this to say.
“According to our hospital bed occupancy data, 1.6 to 2 percent are patients in critical condition. Those with moderate illnesses account for 20 to 23 percent. That means the remaining 70 to 75 percent are people with mild or no symptoms being cared for at residential treatment centers. If home treatment is expanded, we may see fewer patients being treated under quarantine at these centers."
That's probably just one of the many changes we will see in the coming weeks. Thank you for now, Soa.