A third wave of COVID-19 infections is spreading throughout Korea. As the spread continues in common spaces such as schools, academies, and other small social gatherings, collective rates of infection are increasing. The daily number of new confirmed cases, which stood at 300 in early November, has now reached 500. As a result, the capital area has upgraded to level 2 social distancing as of November 24, and Changwon will carry out level 2 social distancing from November 29 to December 12.
Pharmaceutical companies in countries all over the world are working hard to develop vaccines. Fortunately, on November 10, the U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer succeeded in developing the COVID-19 vaccine in cooperation with Germany's BioNTech. The vaccine applied for emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after final clinical trials showed that it had a 95 percent immunity rate.
This vaccine is set to be approved and released in less than a year, making it the shortest development time for a vaccine in history. According to an analysis of 25 cases of material patents confirmed among 31 new drugs licensed by 2019, the average development period of new drugs is 9.9 years. There are concerns about side effects because of the rushed timeline of the COVID-19 vaccine. Side effects during the vaccine trials included fatigue, headaches, chills, muscle pain, and some people developed fever symptoms. Pfizer said the reported side effects are not at a level that raises concerns about the safety of the vaccine and that the safety and immunity will continue to be scrutinized and developed.
The FDA is scheduled to hold an advisory committee meeting on December 10 to discuss Pfizer's application for emergency use of vaccines. The United States and the European Union said they would start vaccinating Americans with the COVID-19 vaccine on December 11 if the vaccine approval goes smoothly. Compared to other countries, Korea does not have a fixed quantity of vaccines allotted for the country yet. According to a November 27 announcement by the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters, the Korean government is currently pushing for supply plans with five foreign pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca. They're planning to secure vaccines for 30 million people by purchasing contracts within this year and conducting vaccinations in the second quarter of next year.
People will have to wait and see until the stability of these vaccines are assured, so it is not clear exactly when or how long the vaccine will take to be distributed. As the world is in a chaotic situation with COVID-19, people should continue to follow quarantine rules until a safe vaccine is supplied.
▲ Various pharmaceutical companies are working on developing the COVID-19 vaccine (source: shutterstock)
By Kim Seong-Ju, cub-reporter email@example.com
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