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

Via Sangmi Cha

SEOUL (Reuters) - On Tuesday the first of three advisory committees in South Korea evaluating a vaccine COVID-19 developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech recommended that the government accept it.

On Friday, the same day South Korea will launch its immunization campaign, the national pharmaceutical panel aims to make its recommendation.

But the government will wait for the third panel to determine whether or not to give consent, which has not said when it will come to its conclusion.

A vaccine produced by AstraZeneca and Oxford University will inoculate high-risk people who are a priority at the outset of the vaccination program.

A day after, however, South Korea will use 117 000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine provided by COVAX, a multinational vaccine-sharing scheme for coronaviruses, to prevent the need for final approval by the government.

Roughly 55,000 health staff will receive first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Saturday in COVID-19 recovery centers.

The first panel reporting the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine recommended that it be offered to people aged 16 and over taking its worldwide research findings and acceptance into consideration in many other nations.

Pfizer agreed to double the availability of the US vaccine in mid-March, raising global development targets to at least 2 billion doses for 2021.

On Monday, South Korea registered 357 new cases of coronavirus.

The estimated number of illnesses is currently 87,681, including 1,573 deaths.

(Sangmi Cha reporting; Simon Cameron-Moore editing)