On Friday, South Korea launched its first available stock of coronavirus vaccines in long-term care facilities, launching a mass vaccination campaign that health officials hope will return to normal by the end of the year.
The spread of vaccines comes at a critical time for a country that has seen its heavy gains against the virus disappear from winter growth and struggles to mitigate the economic shock of the epidemic that has crippled service jobs.
“I was very anxious last year, but now I feel safer after getting the vaccine,” said Lee Gyeong-shon, a nursing home worker who was shot dead at a health center north of Seoul.
Health officials plan to complete the injection of the first of the two doses by the end of March with 344,000 long-term care staff, as well as 55,000 front-line health workers.
“We have taken the historic first step in restoring normalcy,” Health Ministry spokesman Son Yang-ri told a briefing.
He said the government had decided to extend the current level of social distance by at least two weeks, tightening private social gatherings of more than five people and banning closed meals after 10pm to help create a safe vaccination environment.
Individually, physicians, nurses այլ other healthcare professionals treating COVID-19 patients will start receiving staff from Pfizer և BioNTech from Saturday. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which South Korea acquired through the WHO-sponsored COVAX program, arrived at Incheon International Airport on Friday and will be transported to five major COVID-19 treatment hospitals.
The next available vaccines are likely to be targeted at general hospital staff, paramedics, quarantine staff և over 65, while larger groups of adults will start shooting in the summer.
In other developments around the Asia-Pacific region.
– Hong Kong has launched its first COVID-19 vaccine, launching a free immunization program for all 7.5 million people. People in their 60s, seniors, and health care workers are among the 2.4 million people currently receiving vaccinations at community centers and outpatient clinics in Hong Kong. The government said registration for the first two weeks of the program was complete. Participants will now receive the vaccine from the Chinese biomedical firm Sinovac. One million doses arrived in the city last week, and Hong Kong leader Kerry Lam and other senior government officials were first vaccinated to boost confidence in the program. Hong Kong has agreed to purchase 22.5 million doses of the vaccine from Sinovac, AstraZeneca և Fosun Pharma, which will deliver the vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech.
– Japan Aponia says coronavirus vaccine deliveries will reach local authorities by the end of June to vaccinate the nation’s 36 million elderly people. Children over the age of 65 plan to receive the vaccine after receiving medical treatment. The campaign, which began about a week ago, has so far benefited more than 21,000 health workers. There are almost 4 million medical workers in Aponia, Japan. The government has announced that vaccinations for the elderly will begin on April 12. But concerns about oversupply were growing. Their final completion schedule, which includes two shots per person, confirms the delivery schedule for COVID-19 vaccines from Europe, compiled by the US pharmaceutical company Pfizer. Such deliveries are set to increase significantly in May, the government said in a statement. It is expected that it will take months for the vaccines to become available to the rest of the population. Japan, which has suffered more than 7,000 deaths from the epidemic, is now relying on vaccine imports.
– China approves two COVID-19 vaccines for wider use The CanSino Biologics vaccine is the first to be developed by a Chinese company that requires just one shot. CanSino says it is 65.28% effective 28 days after dosing. The other newly approved vaccine is from the state-owned subsidiary of Sinopharm, the Wuhan Biological Institute, which says its vaccine is 72.51% effective. From Sinovats ին Vaccines of Sinopharm Beijing subsidiary approved earlier և are used. Sinovac և Sinopharm announced that by the end of this year they will be able to produce 1 billion shots a year. The military researcher told state media that CanSino could produce up to 300 million doses a year, and the Wuhan Institute said it could produce up to 100 million doses a year.