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South Korean deaths spark flu vaccine safety fears

By: Bloomberg |

October 22, 2020 10:07:19 am

Cops sporting face masks to assist shield towards the unfold of the coronavirus, stroll in downtown Seoul, South Korea (AP)

South Korean officers refused to droop the nation’s seasonal flu inoculation programme on Thursday, regardless of rising calls to take action following the deaths of at the very least 13 individuals who have been vaccinated in current days.

Well being authorities stated they’ve discovered no direct hyperlinks between the deaths, which embody a 17-year-old boy, and the vaccines being given beneath a programme to inoculate some 19 million youngsters and senior residents totally free.

“The variety of deaths has elevated, however our group sees low chance that the deaths resulted from the photographs,” Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Illness Management and Prevention Company (KDCA), instructed parliament.

South Korea ordered 20% extra flu vaccines this 12 months to beat back what it calls a “twindemic” of individuals with flu creating potential COVID-19 issues, and overburdening hospitals over the winter.

“I perceive and remorse that individuals are involved in regards to the vaccine,” Well being Minister Park Neung-hoo stated on Thursday, whereas confirming the free programme would go forward.

“We’re trying into the causes however will once more completely look at the whole course of wherein numerous authorities companies are concerned, from manufacturing to distribution,” he added.

The nation’s free vaccine programme makes use of doses manufactured by native drug makers GC Pharma, SK Bioscience and Ilyang Pharmaceutical Co, together with France’s Sanofi and Britain’s Glaxosmithkline. The vaccines are distributed by native corporations LG Chem Ltd and Boryung Biopharma Co. Ltd., a unit of Boryung Pharm Co. Ltd. .

GC Pharma, LG Chem, SK Bioscience and Boryung declined to remark. Ilyang Pharmaceutical, Sanofi and GSK didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.

It was not instantly clear if any of the South Korean-manufactured vaccines have been exported, or whether or not these provided by Sanofi and GSK have been additionally being utilized in different nations.

Kim Chong-in, chief of the principle opposition Folks Energy social gathering, stated the programme must be halted till the precise causes of the deaths had been verified.

Well being authorities stated on Wednesday {that a} preliminary investigation into six deaths discovered no direct connection to the vaccines. No poisonous substances have been discovered within the vaccines, and at the very least 5 of the six folks investigated had underlying situations, officers stated.


The free programme has proved controversial from its launch final month. Its begin was suspended for 3 weeks after it was found that some 5 million doses, which have to be refrigerated, had been uncovered to room temperature whereas being transported to a medical facility.

Officers stated 8.three million folks had been inoculated because the programme resumed on Oct. 13, with round 350 circumstances of antagonistic reactions reported.

The federal government can also be providing a paid vaccine programme which, mixed with the free programme, goals to inoculate about 30 million of the nation’s 52-million inhabitants. Beneath the paid programme, the purchaser can choose the vaccine supplier from a bigger pool that features the free vaccine producers plus others.

The best variety of deaths in South Korea linked to seasonal flu vaccinations was six in 2005, based on the Yonhap news company. Officers have stated it’s troublesome to make comparisons to earlier years due to the larger numbers of individuals taking the vaccine this 12 months.

Kim Myung-suk, 65, who’s eligible for a free vaccine, was amongst a rising variety of folks opting to train alternative as an alternative.

“Although only a few folks died up to now, the quantity is rising and that makes me uneasy,” she instructed Reuters in Seoul. “So I’m getting a shot some other place and pays for it.”

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