The first batch of Pfizer's vaccine for XBB.1.5, an omicron subvarient of COVID-19, has arrived at Incheon Airport on Monday, according to the quarantine authorities.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said that 4.04 million doses of the latest Pfizer vaccine arrived in the afternoon, out of a total 15 million doses set aside for this year's winter vaccination program.
"A lot of research has shown that those who have taken this updated COVID-19 vaccine, which includes a component that corresponds to the XBB lineage of the omicron variant, showed a strong immune response against some of the variants that are common now. Their antibody responses after vaccination were more than 10 times higher against XBB 1.5 compared to before vaccination,” an official from the KDCA said.
The KDCA and the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety gave special approval for the manufacture and sale of the vaccine to be introduced and distributed swiftly.
Another six million doses of the vaccine are set to arrive, making a total of 10 million doses, the KDCA said, without giving specific dates.
Furthermore, the KDCA said it will introduce five million doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for XBB.1.5 starting in October. The authorities are reviewing an emergency use authorization for it, the agency said.
The KDCA said it plans to begin administering the vaccines next month, and specific dates for this year's winter vaccination program will be announced sometime next week.
“The KDCA strongly recommends high-risk groups to get vaccinated, such as the elderly,” the agency said.