South Korea cuts first quarter COVID-19 vaccination plan and restricts use of AstraZeneca injection


FILE PHOTO: A nurse participates in a mock coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination at the COVID-19 vaccination center in Seoul, South Korea, on February 9, 2021. REUTERS / Kim Hong-Ji / Pool / File Photo

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea said on Monday it will not use AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine in people over 65, reversing a previous decision and lowering initial vaccination targets due to delays in shipments from the global exchange scheme. of COVAX vaccines.

South Korea had said it would complete the vaccination of 1.3 million people by the first quarter of this year with AstraZeneca injections, but slashed the target to 750,000.

The decision is largely due to adjustments to the delivery schedule for 2.6 million doses of COVAX’s AstraZeneca vaccine, the Korea Disease Prevention and Control Agency (KDCA) said on Monday.

He did not mention any production problems in Europe because of the delayed schedule, which he attributed to administrative processes at COVAX, and reiterated that his plan to achieve herd immunity by November remained intact.

“We do not believe that the vaccine adjustments in February and March will affect our herd immunity target for November,” KDCA Director Jeong Eun-kyeong said at a briefing.

South Korea also reversed its previous plan on using the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying it would delay inoculating the elderly with the injection until more data on efficacy are available.

South Korean authorities said last week that they would grant their first approval for a coronavirus vaccine to AstraZeneca and allow its use in older people, despite warnings from advisory panels about a lack of data on its efficacy in older patients.

Several European countries have warned that the AstraZeneca / Oxford University injection should only be given to people ages 18 to 64, but the company has said it triggers a good immune response in older people.

South Korea’s first vaccinations will begin on February 26, with healthcare workers and vulnerable residents, including the elderly, being first in line.

Reporting by Sangmi Cha and Josh Smith; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Alex Richardson

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