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[Newsmaker] South Korea approves AstraZeneca vaccine for all adults

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety convenes a final review meeting on Wednesday, to review the novel coronavirus vaccine by AstraZeneca. (Yonhap)
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety convenes a final review meeting on Wednesday, to review the novel coronavirus vaccine by AstraZeneca. (Yonhap)
South Korea has approved the emergency use of AstraZeneca’s adenoviral vector COVID-19 vaccine for all adults, including those aged 65 and older, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said Wednesday.

The efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine for seniors had been a matter of contention, given the dearth of clinical data presented by AstraZeneca in regards to the aged cohort. Authorities here have decided to proceed with vaccination for all, on the condition that AstraZeneca follows up with further corroboration through clinical phase 3 trial.

“(The corresponding vaccine) has shown a similar or even lower number (of deviant cases) in the elderly group, so we found no major problem in terms of safety,” said Minister Kim Gang-lip in a briefing.

AstraZeneca vaccine so far has shown 62 percent efficacy, with the number of over-65 candidates only accounting for 7.4 percent of the clinical trials.

While seniors are not excluded in vaccination, doctors are advised to exert prudent professional opinions when deciding to inoculate patients over 65 with the AstraZeneca vaccine, the ministry added.

Pregnant women are advised against inoculation, unless absolutely necessary. It is not known what effects breastfeeding mothers will experience if given AstraZeneca vaccine.

AstraZeneca vaccine’s emergency approval took only 37 days after AstraZeneca Korea submitted an application to the local Drug Ministry on Jan. 4.

The authorities said they expect to give shipment clearance between Feb. 15 and 19, prior to the scheduled reception of 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Feb. 24.

Pfizer Korea filed the same application on Jan. 25.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)

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