South Korea on Monday (15/2) said it would not use AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine on people aged 65 and over and reduced its initial vaccination target due to delays in delivery of the global COVAX vaccine scheme.
South Korea previously said it would vaccinate 1.3 million people in the first quarter of this year with AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine, but later reversed its previous decision by sharply cutting its vaccination target to 750,000 people.
The decision was largely due to adjustments to the supply schedule for 2.6 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from COVAX, the Korea Agency for Disease Control and Prevention (KDCA) said Monday.
South Korea also reiterated that its plan to achieve herd immunity by November will continue.
"We do not believe the adjustment to the vaccination schedule in February and March will impact our goal of achieving herd immunity by November," KDCA director Jeong Eun-kyeong said at a briefing.
South Korea also scrapped previous plans for the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine and said it would delay vaccinating the elderly using the vaccine until more data was available on the efficacy of AstraZeneca's vaccine.
South Korean authorities said last week that they would give AstraZeneca their first approval for the coronavirus vaccine, and would allow its use in the elderly, despite warnings from an advisory panel about a lack of data regarding its efficacy in older patients.
Several European countries have warned that AstraZeneca / University of Oxford's Covid vaccine should only be given to those aged 18 to 64, but the pharmaceutical company says the vaccine triggers a favorable immune response in older people.
South Korea's first vaccination will begin on February 26, with healthcare workers and vulnerable populations, including the elderly, as the first group to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Source Reuters (Antara / Ant)
Joe Biden Wants to Close Guantanamo Prison
Surrounding America (US) President Joe Biden will seek to close the prison at the US base at Guantanamo Bay after the review process. Biden will continue the plan to close the Guantanamo prison that began in the Barack Obama administration.
The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said on Friday last week that the Biden administration intended to close the Guantanamo detention facility, something President Obama promised shortly after he took office in January 2009.
Psaki did not provide details on when the closure of the Guantanamo prison would be realized. According to him, many parties will be involved in this matter, because it requires discussion from the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Justice and other institutions that have not been appointed under the Biden administration.
China 'Refuses' to Open Data, WHO's Investigation of COVID-19 Has No Results
China has refused to provide raw data on the initial cases of COVID-19 to a team of investigators from the World Health Organization (WHO) who are currently in China to investigate the origins of the pandemic.
Australian infectious disease expert Dominic Dwyer said the WHO team had asked for raw patient data from 174 cases China had identified from the initial phase of the outbreak in the city of Wuhan in December 2019. However, the WHO team was only given a summary.
Such raw data is known as a 'row list' and will usually be anonymized. The data contains details such as what questions are asked of patients, their responses and how they respond when analyzed.
"That is standard practice in an outbreak investigation," said Dwyer, quoted by Al Jazeera, Monday, February 15, 2021.
He said that getting access to the raw data was very important because only half of the 174 exposed cases had ever gone to the Huanan market. The wholesale seafood market in Wuhan is thought to be where the new Coronavirus was detected.
"That's why we insist on asking for it. Why didn't it happen, I can't comment. Either for political reasons or timing. But is there any other reason why the data is not available, I don't know," he said.
The mission carried out by the WHO team for four weeks in China to reveal the origin of the Corona virus was completed earlier this week, without any conclusive results or findings.
Until now, the Chinese government has not commented on these claims. But the central government in Beijing stressed the importance of transparency in dealing with the outbreak and cooperation with the WHO team.
WHO investigations into China run into many hurdles. The team, which arrived in China in January, was restricted from visiting and prevented from making contact with community members, citing health restrictions.
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