Asian countries in no hurry to approve coronavirus vaccines
(Natural News) Some Asian officials and health experts remained anxious about COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA technology, which instructs the human body to produce proteins that then develop protective antibodies. It’s the first time to use that technology in a global vaccination effort.
While the technology sped up the process of developing vaccines to combat the pandemic, it also prompted major Asian countries to proceed with caution and take their time before granting regulatory approvals for vaccines.
There have been some reports of allergic reactions from the COVID-19 vaccine, including anaphylactic shock and incidents like the death of a health worker 16 days after receiving the Pfizer shot, but a link has not been established and millions of people have already been vaccinated without incident.
“It’s not a bad thing to sit back a bit and see how others are doing,” said Lam Ching-Choi, a medical doctor and a member of the Executive Council that advises Hong Kong’s leader.
Hong Kong has yet to approve a single vaccine as it awaits more detailed clinical trial data ahead of a planned vaccination drive to start in February. It only has a total 161 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began, thanks to its strict social distancing measures and efficient contact-tracing systems.
Leaders of Asian countries like Japan and South Korea also don’t want a botched rollout to undermine public confidence in the vaccines, which is already low to begin with.
Japan, which is now posting record numbers of new cases, is slated to start inoculations in late February. South Korea also plans to administer shots next month.
Oceania countries Australia and New Zealand, which are also parts of Asia, are also taking it slow.
Australia expects to approve the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE by the end of January and the AstraZeneca Plc vaccine next month.
“This extra time will allow those countries to learn from the experience of countries that have commenced distribution,” said Adam Taylor, a virologist at Griffith University in Australia. “The more information you have on the process of distribution and the safety of the vaccines, the more confidence you have in your own rollout. The technology used for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines has never been used before in humans and although safety looks good, the more data the better.”
New Zealand, which tops Bloomberg’s COVID Resilience Ranking of major economies that have best fought the pandemic, will only begin its rollout in the second half of 2021.