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Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine gets nod in S.Korea from first of three expert panels

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Sangmi Cha
·1 min read
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By Sangmi Cha

SEOUL, Feb 23 (Reuters) - The first of three expert panelsin South Korea reviewing a COVID-19 vaccine developed by PfizerInc and BioNTech gave its recommendation onTuesday for the government to approve the vaccine.

The national pharmaceutical panel is planning to make itsrecommendation on Friday, the same day that South Korea willbegin its immunisation drive. But, the government will wait fora third panel, which has not said when it will reach itsconclusion, before deciding whether to grant approval.

High-risk individuals, prioritised at the start of thevaccination campaign, will be inoculated with a vaccinedeveloped by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

A day later, however, South Korea will make use of 117,000doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that have been suppliedthrough COVAX, an international coronavirus vaccine sharingprogramme, bypassing the need for the government's finalapproval.

Around 55,000 healthcare workers in COVID-19 treatmentfacilities will receive the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTechvaccine on Saturday.

The first panel to report on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccineadvised that it should be administered to people aged 16 andover, taking into account its global trial results and approvalin several other countries.

Pfizer has promised to double its supply of the vaccine forthe United States by the middle of March and also raised globalproduction expectations for 2021 to at least 2 billion doses.

South Korea reported 357 new coronavirus cases on Monday.The total number of infections now stands at 87,681, with deathtoll of 1,573.(Reporting by Sangmi Cha; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)