South Korea and Samsung’s Lee pitch for early supply of Moderna vaccine

South Korea and Samsung’s Lee Jae-Yong pitch for early supply of Moderna vaccine
Samsung’s Lee Jae-Yong

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-Yong (Yonhap) was behind the idea of supplying the Moderna vaccines to the South Korean government at the earliest possible. Also, the Korean health ministry will team up with Samsung Biologics’ representative for the discussions with Moderna on the speedy delivery of the vaccines.

Vaccine supply 

South Korea focuses on receiving about 24 million vaccine doses from Moderna by the end of October month. The country is hoping to vaccinate at least 70 percent of its population with two shots each. President Moon Jae-in said that despite the continued vaccine shortages, the October goal could be achievable by increasing the efficiency of available supplies. He further said that the public’s expectations of his role are not just for navigating the escalating global chip war but also for helping the country fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The government is hoping on his ability to use his global networks, connections, and Samsung’s trading power to aid the country’s acquirement of vaccine jabs from US vaccine developers — namely Pfizer and Moderna.

Lee’s efforts

Samsung Biologics is in discussions with health ministry officials to explore ways to hasten the supply of Moderna vaccines in South Korea. Lee had been in jail since February, and after he was released on parole in August, he is keeping a low profile. Lee is putting efforts on getting closer with the CEO of Moderna, Stéphane Bancel, with the several rounds of teleconferences.

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Lee Jae-Yong’s release came at a political cost as President Moon promised to keep a distance of the government from big business companies. Samsung’s Lee was responsible for arranging the meetings between government officials and Pfizer executives last year when the government was struggling to finalize the vaccine shots deal.

Moderna’s words

Moderna confirmed that it would provide about 40 million doses of Moderna vaccines by the year’s end. The first supply had arrived in May, which was just 2.45 million of volume, i.e., about 6%. On Wednesday, October 27, 2021, a senior presidential secretary for the communications Park Soo-Hyun said in a radio interview that Moderna will inform the government about its final decision about South Korea’s pleas for early vaccine distribution by the end of this week. The Moderna verbally vowed to provide the remaining 94%, i.e., 37.6 million doses, by this year. However, this verbal agreement could be perhaps finalised by this week.

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