Gov't Passes Blame for Vaccination Delays

      February 15, 2021 13:37

      The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety authorized the use of coronavirus vaccines manufactured by AstraZeneca, but made it mandatory to post warnings urging elderly people to think twice before taking the jabs. The ministry said the measure aims to "have doctors make the decision to use the vaccine based on a thorough assessment of the benefits according to the condition of the recipient." That means doctors have to take responsibility for the safety of vaccinations.

      The ministry says the decision is based on a lack of statistically significant data, because there were only 660 participants in a clinical study on the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine. But no other government in the world has been so vague about the standards. The governments of Germany, France and Sweden simply restricted the AstraZeneca vaccine to under-65s, and Switzerland put its decision on hold until enough data are available.

      In Korea, but contrast, the ministry that should be making this decision simply passed the buck to frontline doctors. The ministry and a panel of experts studied all available clinical data but were unable to arrive at a decision. So how does the government expect individual doctors to make such a decision? This is simply irresponsible.

      If there is a lack of data, one solution is to hold off inoculating senior citizens until the mid-term results of a U.S. safety study come out. Another way could be to ask the U.K. for data, since the country already inoculated millions of people with the vaccine. The ministry simply lost its head, and now more than three out of every 10 Koreans want to either postpone or avoid getting vaccinated.

      If the government had secured a wide range of vaccines early, this controversy could have been avoided. This whole mess happened because the government dragged its heels and missed the golden opportunity to secure vaccines, forcing it now to rely on AstraZeneca alone. This mistake has not only increased psychological stress for frontline doctors but for the public as well.

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