No Takers for Homegrown Korean COVID Vaccine

  • By Ahn Jun-yong

    November 21, 2022 13:23

    The vaccination rate with Korea's first homegrown COVID-19 vaccine, SKYCovione developed by SK Bioscience, is vanishingly small even though health authorities are encouraging people to get additional booster shots for the winter.
    This is because demand is mostly for new vaccines developed by global pharma giants to fight the new Omicron variants that now dominate. 
    Only 3,575 doses of SKYCovione had been administered as of last Friday, though the government had bought doses for 10 million people. 
    Among some 1.92 million people who got an additional booster for the winter, only 1,646 or a mere 0.09 percent had been given SKYCovione.
    SKYCovione and U.S.-made Novavax are both recombinant-protein vaccines, but they have already been superseded by the new Moderna or Pfizer mRNA vaccines that target Omicron variants. 
    Only 243 SKYCovione doses were administered for first booster shots and 1,361 doses for second boosters in the two months since the vaccine became available. 
    Some 21,190 people had Novavax jabs. 
    Despite proof that SKYCovione is also effective against Omicron variants, it has been largely ignored since shots started on Sept. 5. 
    Authorities are also mostly encouraging people to get the new Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.
    The government has now decided to extend the expiry date of the SKYCovione in its stockpile from six to nine months. SK Bioscience hopes to give the vaccine to children and adolescents and make inroads into developing countries instead. 
    But it is not even on the WHO's emergency use list of vaccines yet and exports have not been approved by the U.S. and the EU. In Africa, Chinese vaccines are making inroads because they are cheaper.  
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