|Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun (C) presides over an interagency meeting on the COVID-19 response held at the government complex in Seoul on Thursday.|
Earlier in the day, trucks and ships packed with the first of some 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines headed to long-term care hospitals and public health centers across the country.
"Please have trust in the government and actively participate in the inoculation plan prepared based on science and facts," Chung said during a daily interagency meeting on the coronavirus response at the government complex in Seoul.
Chung added that the government's aim to establish nationwide group herd immunity would "remain no more than a delusion" if the people mistrust the vaccine campaign and avoid receiving inoculations.
The prime minister's remarks came amid a growing controversy over the efficacy of AstraZeneca vaccines for seniors. The government has decided to postpone AstraZeneca vaccine shots for people aged 65 or older until further data, including the result of the phase three clinical trials, is obtained. The authorities are expected to decide whether or not to administer AstraZeneca shots to those in the age group in late March.
Chung stated the government will accept vaccine-related research results that are "verified by science and disclose the data transparently to the public."
The prime minister also asked conservative civic groups to cancel their plan to hold mass political rallies on the March 1 Independence Movement Day, citing the risk of stoking new COVID-19 outbreaks.
Chung also said the government will decide on whether or not to go ahead with a tentative plan to announce a revised social distancing scheme Friday, after taking into consideration the latest growth trend of virus patients. (Yonhap)