Korea approves Pfiser’s COVID-19 vaccine amid immunisation push

06-Mar-2021 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 6:49 AM Print This Post

South Korea’s drug safety agency on Friday approved the vaccine for the novel coronavirus developed by US pharmaceutical company Pfiser Inc. as the country is pushing for the COVID-19 inoculation campaign.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety allowed use of Pfiser’s two full-dose regimen following three separate independent evaluations on the efficacy and safety.

Pfiser products for about 23 million people, under a direct contract between the pharmaceutical firm and the Seoul government, are expected to start arriving here later this month.

The ministry said Pfiser’s two full-dose regimen showed more than a 95 percent efficacy rate, including for people aged between 16 and 17, and aged 65 and older.

Despite the ministry’s decision, it is unclear whether youths are eligible to receive Pfiser vaccines as local health authorities here exclude inoculating people younger than 18.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) is expected to convene a meeting later to decide on whether to include youths for the inoculation with the Pfiser vaccine.

The approval is separate from Pfiser vaccines for more than 56,000 front-line medical workers that were provided earlier as part of the World Health Organization’s global vaccine COVAX Facility project.

Doctors, nurses and other health professionals treating COVID-19 patients in the greater Seoul area started receiving their first shots of Pfiser’s regimen at a state-run vaccination facility in central Seoul last week.

Pfiser products through the COVAX earlier received “special import” approval from the ministry.

The ministry also said it has not yet started reviewing whether to allow storing the Pfiser vaccine at higher temperatures for two weeks, citing that further data is needed for the review.

Earlier, the US Food and Drug Administration said it will allow Pfiser vaccines to be transported and stored for up to two weeks at conventional freezer temperatures instead of the ultra-cold conditions.

South Korea began its long-awaited COVID-19 vaccination campaign on February 26 and more people are expected to receive their first shots despite controversies over recent reports of deaths.

A total of 225,853 people had been administered with their first shots as of midnight, which accounts for 0.43 percent of the country’s 52 million population, the KDCA said.

Of the total, 221,944 health care workers and patients at long-term care facilities received the first jabs of the two-dose vaccine regimen developed by British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and Oxford University, the KDCA said

The KDCA said 59.4 percent of inoculation priority groups for AstraZeneca’s vaccine have been inoculated, which is far faster than the rollout plan announced earlier.

Meanwhile, 6.95 percent of 56,363 people scheduled to receive Pfiser vaccines were inoculated. The group includes doctors, nurses and other health professionals treating COVID-19 patients in the greater Seoul area.

On Friday, the country reported 398 more COVID-19 cases, raising the total caseload to 91,638, the KDCA said.


Category: Korea

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