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S. Korea approves Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine amid immunization push

5 March 2021 21:44

SEOUL. KAZINFORM South Korea's drug safety agency on Friday approved the vaccine for the novel coronavirus developed by U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. as the country is pushing for the COVID-19 inoculation campaign.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety allowed use of Pfizer's two full-dose regimen following three separate independent evaluations on the efficacy and safety, Yonhap reports.

The Pfizer vaccine is the second coronavirus vaccine approved here, following AstraZeneca developed by British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

Pfizer products for about 23 million people, under a direct contract between the pharmaceutical firm and the Seoul government, are expected to start arriving here later this month.

The ministry said Pfizer's two full-dose regimen showed more than a 95 percent efficacy rate, including for people aged between 16 and 17, and aged 65 and older.

Despite the ministry's decision, it is unclear whether youths are eligible to receive Pfizer vaccines as local health authorities here exclude inoculating people younger than 18.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) is expected to convene a meeting later to decide on whether to include youths for the inoculation with the Pfizer vaccine.

The approval is separate from Pfizer vaccines for more than 56,000 front-line medical workers that were provided earlier as part of the World Health Organization's global vaccine COVAX Facility project.

Doctors, nurses and other health professionals treating COVID-19 patients in the greater Seoul area started receiving their first shots of Pfizer's regimen at a state-run vaccination facility in central Seoul last week.

Pfizer products through the COVAX earlier received «special import» approval from the ministry.

The ministry also said it granted approval on the condition that the Pfizer vaccine be stored and transported at temperatures between minus 90 C and 60 C.