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S. Korea to start taking reservations for homegrown COVID-19 vaccine

 

Vials of South Korea's first homegrown vaccine developed by SK Bioscience (Yonhap)
Vials of South Korea's first homegrown vaccine developed by SK Bioscience (Yonhap)

South Korea on Thursday started taking reservations for South Koreas first COVID-19 vaccine developed by a domestic firm, SK Bioscience.

Adults aged 18 and older can make reservations for the country’s first homegrown vaccine if they have not completed the primary vaccination series.

Those who make reservations will be able to get the vaccine from Sept. 13. Public health centers and local hospitals will also use the vaccine from Monday.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare explained that people who are worried about side effects of existing mRNA vaccines can take the SK Bioscience vaccine, which is produced through genetic recombination technology.

SK Bioscience’s vaccine, however, cannot be used as a booster vaccine yet. Currently, clinical trials are being conducted to test the safety and efficacy of the vaccine as a booster, the government explained.

In the meantime, those people who have already received their first and second shots will be eligible for booster shots targeting the omicron subvariant BA.1.

The COVID-19 boosters tailored for BA.1 are expected to arrive in South Korea in October, according to the government.

The vaccines that target the omicron subvariant become available first for those in high-risk groups, including people 60 and older. The next in line are those in their 50s or with underlying symptoms.

People can get the vaccine targeting BA.1 if four to six months have passed since an infection or completion of the primary vaccination series.

The government, however, has recommended those who have already finished their third shots to receive existing vaccines instead of waiting for the new vaccines, as existing vaccines can still significantly lower the mortality rate and prevent the development of severe cases.

About Pfizer and Moderna's updated vaccines that target BA.4 and BA.5, which the US authorized on Wednesday, the South Korean government said it would strictly review the safety and efficacy of the vaccines before introducing them here.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s daily COVID-19 cases fell to 81,573 on Wednesday, showing a slight downward trend. It was down from 113,371 a week earlier.

Although the latest omicron wave shows a moderate declining trend, the government is worried as experts have warned that another wave of COVID-19 infections is expected to come in October or November, coinciding with waning immunity.

The number of deaths, however, came to 112, the highest figure in four months, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

The number of critically ill patients stood at 555, down 14 from a day earlier.



By Shim Woo-hyun (ws@heraldcorp.com)
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