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Pfizer requests South Korea approval of COVID-19 vaccines ahead of February rollout

Pfizer requests South Korea approval of COVID-19 vaccines ahead of February rollout

A medical staff member holds a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Jan 7, 2021. (Photo: Reuters/Juan Medina)

SEOUL: Drugmaker Pfizer has filed an application seeking approval of its COVID-19 vaccines to be used in South Korea as the country gears up to begin inoculations next month, authorities said on Monday (Jan 25).

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said it aims to reach a decision within 40 days after cutting its previous deliberation period of up to 180 days to fast-track the approval and speed up the vaccination process.

"Pfizer submitted the request today for its vaccines produced in Belgium," the ministry said in a statement.

"We will thoroughly review their safety and effectiveness in cooperation with professional examiners and outside experts so that our people can access safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines."

READ: Doctors cast doubt on South Korea's COVID-19 herd immunity goal

READ: COVID-19: South Korea expands ban on social gatherings nationwide

South Korea has said its first batch of vaccines consisting of 100,000 doses of Pfizer products for 50,000 people could arrive before the Chinese New Year holidays, which begin on Feb 11, via global distribution scheme COVAX.

Authorities have started setting up vaccination centres, designating about 250 indoor gyms and theatres nationwide, with the goal of vaccinating up to 70 per cent of its 52 million population until September.

The country has secured 106 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, and is also in talks to buy 40 million doses of products from Novavax.

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Source: Reuters/zl

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