The expiration date of the 700,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine coming from Israel in a swap deal is July 31. Considering that the vaccines arrive at the Incheon International Airport on Wednesday morning, the expiration date of the vaccines remains less than a month. South Korean health authorities, however, say there are no quality and safety issues regarding the Pfizer vaccine close to expiry.
“These are from the same batch being used in Israel this month, and we have confirmed that the vaccines have been kept under a cold chain environment under minus 70 degrees Celsius,” Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong said on Tuesday. “The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety will test the quality of the vaccines before administering them.” When asked if the vaccines from Israel are the ones canceled by Palestine over quality issues, Jeong said they are not the same ones.
The expiration date of COVID-19 vaccines comes six months after production. They are usually administered three to four months before their expiration date, considering the time required for quality test and distribution. Although the Pfizer vaccines from Israel are soon to be expired, health authorities here said Korea has the infrastructure to inoculate 700,000 doses of vaccines before their shelf life expires as well as a high level of willingness from people to get COVID-19 vaccinations.
Additional 700,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccines on top of the 10 million doses of vaccines scheduled to be supplied in July have helped the country speed up the vaccination rollout. Health authorities are planning to provide 340,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines to local governments in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province so that they can start an intensive inoculation program for two weeks from July 13 for those whose work involves contacting many people. The groups of beneficiaries will be selected and announced by the local governments.