South Korean health authorities on Thursday approved the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 65 and above, local media reported.

In a statement, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said the country’s vaccination committee recommended the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine after review studies were conducted by the UK and Scotland, according to Yonhap News Agency.

“As the results in the UK and Scotland were reviewed, the AstraZeneca vaccine was proved effective in hospitalization and severe prevention in the evaluation of the elderly,” the disease control body said.

The country has already begun its vaccination campaign last month, and will now allow the use of AstraZeneca products for all adults, including health care workers and patients in long-term care facilities, those among the first-in-line, it added.

South Korea earlier excluded administering vaccines developed by the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and Oxford University to the elderly, citing insufficient clinical data.

The approval could speed up the country’s inoculation campaign to 376,000 health care workers and patients aged 65 and older in sanatoriums, nursing facilities, and rehabilitation facilities this month, the agency reported.

Seoul launched its vaccination campaign on Feb. 26 and has already received AstraZeneca vaccines for some 289,000 health care workers and patients.

Meanwhile, over the past 24 hours, the country has reported 465 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the caseload to 94,198. The death toll also rose to 1,652 with four more fatalities, according to the agency.

*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid.

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