Workers at a distribution center in the central county of Ochang open boxes containing Paxlovid, COVID-19 treatment pills developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc., on Jan. 13, 2022. The first batch of Paxlovid for 21,000 people arrived in South Korea earlier in the day. (Yonhap)
The first batch of Pfizer Inc.'s antiviral COVID-19 treatment pills arrived in South Korea on Thursday as the country is working to stem the spread of coronavirus infections, health officials said.
The U.S. pharmaceutical giant's oral pills for 21,000 people landed at Incheon airport, west of Seoul, at around 2 p.m. and were delivered to a logistics center in Ochang, 120 kilometers south of the capital, at 5:25 p.m., according to the authorities.
The Paxlovid pills will begin being administered to patients with compromised immune systems and those aged over 65 on Friday.
"They will be delivered to designated pharmacies and treatment centers across the country by tomorrow, or the day after," Lim Sook-young, a senior official at the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, said.
Of the total doses, 30 percent will be kept at the Ochang logistics center to be delivered to necessary sites depending on the distribution situation, she added.
South Korea has secured the Pfizer's medication for 762,000 people so far, with the second batch for 10,000 people scheduled to arrive by the end of the month.
The country reported 4,167 new COVID-19 infections Thursday, raising the total caseload to 679,030.
The country's virus situation has shown signs of slowing down in recent weeks thanks to tightened antivirus restrictions and the active campaign for booster shots. But the health authorities remain vigilant amid the fast spread of the omicron variant. (Yonhap)