The Korea Herald


S. Korea in vaccine swap talks with Romania: foreign ministry

By Yonhap

Published : Aug. 22, 2021 - 09:33

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Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Yonhap) Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Yonhap)
South Korea is in vaccine swap talks with Romania, the foreign ministry said, denying a news report that the European country plans to provide the South with coronavirus vaccines for free.

Romanian national news agency Agerpres reported earlier that the country decided to give South Korea 450,000 doses of Moderna's vaccine on humanitarian grounds.

Seoul's foreign ministry said the two countries are in talks about vaccines but denied that vaccines will be provided for free.

"Reports about the Romanian government providing vaccines for free are not true," the ministry said in a text message to reporters Saturday night. "Discussions are under way between our country and Romania from the context of a vaccine swap."

"The government has built trust between the two countries by providing the Romanian government with diagnosis kits and other quarantine supplies in March last year during the early months of the coronavirus outbreak," it said.

The ministry did not elaborate what the vaccine swap would be like.

But a diplomatic source said South Korea plans to provide Romania with unspecified "corresponding goods" in exchange for vaccines.

On Sunday, national health authorities echoed the foreign ministry's stance, reiterating that South Korea and Romania are in talks for a swap.

"We've been building mutual trust with each other since March last year, when we provided Romania with testing kits in the early days of the pandemic," an official with the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters said during a press briefing.

"It is not true that the Romanian government is donating Moderna vaccines."

The official also denied claims that the expiry dates for vaccines coming over from Romania are imminent and said, "We're in talks over vaccines that have expiry dates of November and later."

"As soon as we have more specifics in our talks, we'll share them (with the public) quickly," the official added. "We'll continue to pursue opportunities for international cooperation in response to COVID-19, as we manage our vaccine supply." (Yonhap)