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The number of North Koreans defecting to the South plummeted last year after Pyongyang closed its border in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Seoul’s unification ministry said Wednesday.
The figure has been on a steady decline for some time but slumped to just 229 last year, the ministry said, far below the 1,047 of 2019.
South Korea may secure additional coronavirus vaccines for 20 million people from US drugmaker Novavax Inc, President Moon Jae-in said, according to a statement from the presidential office on Wednesday.
Reuters reports that Novavax entered into a development and supply agreement for its vaccine with South Korea’s SK bioscience Co last year, according to a statement in August.
Moon visited SK bioscience’s work site on Wednesday and said that the agreement between Novavax and SK bioscience “raised the possibility of securing vaccines for an additional 20 million people,” the statement said.
That is in addition to the vaccines that the South Korean government has secured so far.
The country has secured 106 million doses to allow for coverage of 56 million people, more than the 52 million residents of the country, Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency director Jeong Eun-kyeong said earlier this month.
Despite this, South Korean authorities have been working to secure additional vaccine volumes because of lingering uncertainties surrounding inoculation, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said last week.