SEOUL, Dec. 24 (CNA) - South Korea has signed deals with Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen to import coronavirus vaccines for 10 million people and 6 million, respectively, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a televised briefing on Thursday (Dec 24).

The government had previously arranged to purchase vaccines with four companies, including Janssen and Pfizer and the global COVAX initiative, backed by the World Health Organization, as part of a programme to cover up to 85 per cent of its population.

Chung said the Janssen vaccine will be ready for inoculation from the second quarter of 2020, and the Pfizer vaccine will be shipped in the third quarter.

"We are mobilising the entire national capabilities to bring in the shipments within the second quarter," said Chung. "The negotiation is underway."

The government has been facing growing public pressure over their COVID-19 vaccine procurement plans as the country struggled to contain a third wave of the pandemic.

South Korea reported 985 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the nation's tally to 53,533, with 756 deaths.