South Korea’s vaccination blueprint has been laid out, in terms of priority groups and distribution platforms.
However, uncertainty lingers over the timeline, and which inoculation will be rolled out first.
Our Lee Kyung-eun tells us more.
South Korea requires an extra step to authorize vaccines.
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has to grant national shipment approval, as well as import permission.
That’s because vaccines are administered to large numbers of healthy people, and potential problems could be immense.
The shipment approval usually takes about two to three months,… but the government will fast-track the process, to 20 days for COVID-19 vaccines.
But they will be subject to MORE testing.
“Unlike flu vaccines which have been used for decades, COVID-19 vaccines like the mRNA and viral vector vaccines are new platforms and use new technologies, requiring more caution.
The country’s initial batches are expected to be AstraZeneca vaccines through the COVAX scheme.
The drug agency has begun its review, focusing on several key concerns.
“There is little clinical data for AstraZeneca’s vaccine on those over 56 who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19. Also, the drug shows different immune response rates depending on the dose.”
The agency will hold its first meeting with advisors over AstraZeneca’s vaccine on Sunday,… and will announce the results on Monday.
It is expected to grant import permission by mid-February.
But the actual roll-out could take several weeks longer.
“Even after the permission, the drug will still need to go through quality verification under shipping approval which is expected to last until after the Lunar New Year. So AstraZeneca’s vaccine could be distributed and administered in the last week of February.”
The government is also considering the option of emergency use, skipping the extensive approval process.
It previously imported antiviral drug Remdesivir in this way.
Lee Kyung-eun, Arirang News.

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