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Pfizer virus vaccine gets first South Korean approval, and 2 more are expected

Seoul: The first of three expert panels in South Korea to review the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech on Tuesday gave its recommendation to the government to approve the vaccine.

The National Pharmaceutical Commission plans to submit its recommendation on Friday, the same day that South Korea will start the vaccination campaign.

But the government will wait for a third committee that has not decided when it will reach its conclusion before deciding whether to grant approval.

Individuals at high risk, whose priorities were identified at the start of the vaccination campaign, will be vaccinated with a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

However, a day later, South Korea will benefit from the 117,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that has been provided through Covax, an international program to share a coronavirus vaccine, bypassing the need for final government approval.

About 55,000 healthcare workers in Covid-19 treatment facilities will receive their first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Saturday.

The first committee that reported on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine advised that it should be administered to people 16 years and over, taking into account the results of global trials and approval in many other countries.

Pfizer has promised to double its vaccine supply to the United States by mid-March, and has also raised its global production forecast for 2021 to at least two billion doses.

South Korea reported 357 cases of the new coronavirus on Monday.

The total number of infections now stands at 87,681, and the death toll is 1,573.

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