South Korea is considering AstraZeneca’s application for approval of its coronavirus vaccine as it expands the ban on private gatherings of more than four people across the country.
The South Korean Ministry of Drug Safety has announced that it will allow the British shot in an emergency in 40 days. The approval would be the first for the country, which has struggled with a sustained surge in infections during the last wave that saw deaths rise sharply.
South Korea signed a contract with AstraZeneca in December to secure 20 million doses of its vaccine. The first delivery is expected in January.
It also has contracts with three other drug companies – Pfizer Inc, Johnson &, Johnsons Janssen, Moderna Inc – and the global COVAX initiative supported by the World Health Organization.
The country has received 106 million doses to care for 56 million people, more than the country’s 52 million people, Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, said in a briefing.
The AstraZeneca shot is already approved in the UK, Argentina, El Salvador and India. It’s cheaper and can be stored at refrigerator temperature, which makes it easier to transport and use than some competing shots like Pfizer’s.
However, the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine has been plagued by uncertainty about its most effective dosage, as data released in November showed that half a dose followed by a full dose had a 90 percent success rate while having two full vaccinations 62 per cent were effective.
South Korea reported at midnight on Sunday 1. 020 new coronavirus cases, bringing the number to 64. 264 infections with 981 deaths increased.
The ban on small private gatherings in the greater Seoul area continued until Jan.. January expanded nationwide.
The expanded social distancing rules imposed on Seoul and the surrounding areas include curbs for churches, restaurants, cafes, ski resorts, and other venues.
More than 60 percent of the cases in South Korea come from Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon City. Mass outbreaks affect nursing homes and prisons.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun called for extensive efforts to prepare for the country’s vaccination program.
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South Korea, Coronavirus, Seoul
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