Further discussion needed on AstraZeneca vaccine: S Korea panel

A South Korean panel of experts has advised that vaccines for the novel coronavirus by AstraZeneca should be administered to people aged 65 or older following further discussion, according to the country’s drug safety agency Friday.

The advisory board consisting of outside experts and the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety officials announced its review on the efficacy and safety of the vaccines developed by the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant and Oxford University.

The panel advised the ministry to approve AstraZeneca’s two full-dose regimen on condition that the pharmaceutical firm submit further data on clinical trials on adults aged over 18.

The panel also recommended another round of discussion before administering the vaccine to people aged 65 or older, citing that there is not enough data on the efficacy of the age group.

Controversies arose globally on the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 for seniors as there is not enough data to back its efficacy in older people. Last week, the European Medicines Agency’s expert committee unanimously recommended the vaccine to be used in people 18 and over.

The panel’s review is the second step of three separate independent evaluations before the ministry gives the final approval.

On Monday, a separate panel consisting of outside experts advised the ministry that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe for all adults.

AstraZeneca vaccine doses for up to 2.2 million people are expected to be provided in the first half of this year under the WHO’s global vaccine COVAX Facility project.

Another batch of 10 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines is expected to arrive in the country later this month.