South Korean health authorities on Wednesday approved the first domestically-made COVID-19 vaccine for people 18 and older, a new public health tool to combat the long-running pandemic. .

In clinical trials with some 4,000 participants in South Korea and six other countries, SK Bioscience’s SKYCovione vaccine, which requires two doses, appeared to be more effective than AstraZeneca’s in building immunity against infection, Ministry of Food Safety officials said. and Medications.

It was not immediately clear how authorities would distribute the new vaccine or what role it would play in the next phase of the pandemic. The injections were designed for the original version of the coronavirus, not the more contagious omicron variant that ravaged the country months ago. US-based Pfizer and Moderna have fast-tracked the development of omicron-tuned booster vaccines, and experts say the virus may mutate again in the coming months.

South Korea’s mass vaccination campaign has relied primarily on injections from Pfizer and Moderna based on messenger RNA. But officials say protein vaccines like SKYCovione, similar to those used for years against the common flu and hepatitis B, could attract people who are reluctant to receive vaccines created with the new technologies.

“The international approval (of SKYCovione) confirms the ability of our companies to develop vaccines against COVID-19, Minister for Food and Drug Safety Oh Yu-kyoung said at a press conference. She said that SK Bioscience has sought World Health Organization approval for its vaccines, which would create opportunities for export.

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