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Moon orders review of possible use of Russian COVID-19 vaccine

SEOUL, April 21 (Yonhap) — President Moon Jae-in has instructed his aides to review the possibility of introducing Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, a presidential official said Wednesday, as calls are growing for diversifying vaccine supplies.

In response to his staffs saying there is a need to review the possible introduction of the Russian vaccine amid concerns over challenges in securing sufficient supplies of vaccines, Moon ordered them to do so, according to the official from Cheong Wa Dae.

With his order, his office is now studying the vaccine’s safety, the official added.

The move came amid growing calls for diversifying vaccine supplies as the country is aiming to achieve herd immunity by November. The country currently distributes AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines.

Since the country started its vaccination campaign in February, about 1.8 million people, or 3.41 percent of its population, have been given COVID-19 vaccine shots.

South Korea, with a population of around 52 million, plans to inoculate 3 million people by the end of this month and 12 million by the end of June.

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong told a parliamentary session that Seoul is seriously discussing a “vaccine swap” arrangement with the United States to cope with possible supply shortages amid concerns over a renewed spike of coronavirus cases.

South Korea’s daily new coronavirus cases bounced back to over 700 Wednesday.

The country reported 731 more COVID-19 cases, including 692 local infections, raising the total caseload to 115,926, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

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