People turn to imported flu vaccine, local companies criticise government

31-Oct-2020 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 7:28 AM Print This Post

Public fear surrounding the seasonal flu vaccine is prompting more consumers look for imported flu shots in anticipation that these would be safer than ones produced by local pharmaceutical companies.

As a result, local news outlets are reporting that there is now a shortage of imported vaccines.

Seventy deaths have been reported among those getting free influenza vaccinations, but despite the government announcing that there was no proof that these were caused by the flu shots, public concern about the safety of the vaccines hasn’t subsided.

Out of 12 flu vaccines available in Korea, 10 are made by Korean companies and two by foreign ones. Those used in the government’s free shot programme were from LG Chemical, Boryung Biopharma, GC Pharma, Korea Vaccine, SK Bioscience and Sanofi Pasteur.

These companies have joined the free vaccination programme despite an anticipated loss ? although the government is paying 60 percent of the market price. On the other hand, GSK and Dong-A ST did not participate in the vaccination programme ? GSK is a foreign pharmaceutical company.

Experts and officials in the pharmaceutical industry say there is no difference in safety and efficacy between domestic and imported vaccines. The ingredients and distribution processes are all similar.

“Although participation in the government’s free vaccination programme is not profitable, we took part in the programme this year for the sake of public health,” an official from a domestic pharmaceutical company was quoted as saying by Newsis. “As more people received free vaccinations, the chances of the vaccine being killed have increased. Nevertheless, I am worried that some people think that only GSK products or imported vaccines are safe.”

Another official from the pharmaceutical industry said, “In particular, Boryung Biopharma and Korea Vaccines import the undiluted solution of the vaccine from Sanofi. The raw material itself is an imported vaccine,” he said. “It does not make sense to specify safety and effectiveness by dividing it into domestic products and imported ones.”

The causal relationship between death and vaccine is also judged to be low. On October 29, the Korea Disease Prevention and Control Agency announced that the number of people who died after getting a flu shot this year increased to 70, but there was no causality linked to the vaccination. Among the deaths, 86.1 percent of the people were in their 70s or older.

The official expressed regret that the government’s announcement of the deaths played a part in raising the fear of the flu vaccine.

“The government has announced every time there are reports of death that the association between the deaths and vaccination has not been identified. In the process, the public had no choice but to believe that it was a serious accident after watching the news,” he said. “If there was a real problem with the vaccine, it would not have been administered for nearly 70 years. Similar adverse reactions were found in many patients who received the vaccine, leading to death,” he continued.

“Every year, thousands of people die from the flu. We are worried that people will not be inoculated in the prescribed period due to such excessive fear, which will have a negative impact on public health.”


Category: Korea

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