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 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 the condition that the pharmaceutical firm submit further data on clinical trials on adults aged over 18.
The panel, however, cautioned against inoculating people aged 65 or older with the vaccine, citing that there is not enough data on its efficacy for 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.
However, several European countries, including Germany, have announced that they will restrict the vaccine to younger people and cautioned against its use for the elderly, citing insufficient data on its efficacy.
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.
The company sought emergency use approval on Jan. 4 with the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, which aims to grant it within 40 days.
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.
SK Bioscience Co., a vaccine unit of South Korea’s SK Group, will manufacture AstraZeneca vaccines at a factory in the country.