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Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine gets nod in South Korea from first of three expert panels

Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine gets nod in South Korea from first of three expert panels

Medical workers attend a training to learn how to give coronavirus vaccine shots at the Korean Nurses Association in Seoul, South Korea on Feb 17, 2021. (Photo: AP/Ahn Young-joon)

SEOUL: The first of three expert panels in South Korea reviewing a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech gave its recommendation on Tuesday (Feb 23) for the government to approve the vaccine.

The national pharmaceutical panel is planning to make its recommendation on Friday, the same day that South Korea will begin its immunisation drive.

But the government will wait for a third panel, which has not said when it will reach its conclusion, before deciding whether to grant approval.

High-risk individuals, prioritised at the start of the vaccination campaign, will be inoculated with a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

A day later, however, South Korea will make use of 117,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that have been supplied through COVAX, an international coronavirus vaccine sharing programme, bypassing the need for the government's final approval.

READ: UN to rich nations - Don't undermine COVAX COVID-19 vaccine programme

Around 55,000 healthcare workers in COVID-19 treatment facilities will receive the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Saturday.

The first panel to report on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine advised that it should be administered to people aged 16 and over, taking into account its global trial results and approval in several other countries.

Pfizer has promised to double its supply of the vaccine for the United States by the middle of March and also raised global production expectations for 2021 to at least 2 billion doses.

South Korea reported 357 new coronavirus cases on Monday. The total number of infections now stands at 87,681, with death toll of 1,573.

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Source: Reuters/dv

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