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S. Korea expands booster eligibility to people who've received shots overseas Updated: 2021-10-20 10:24:12 KST

Moving on to the coronavirus situation here in South Korea.
The country is now a few days away from easing social distancing measures and ushering in the "living with COVID" scheme.
But ahead of the change in policies, Wednesday saw a slight jump in infections.

To give us the latest updates and more, joining us live from our studio is our COVID-19 correspondent, Kim Yeon-seung, Good afternoon

Good afternoon.

So South Korea on Wednesday saw an increase of almost 500 COVID-19 infections, compared to Tuesday.
Yeon-seung, is that right?

Yes that's right.
South Korea reported 1,571 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday morning.
First, .. I want to mention that COVID-19 testing centers tend to conduct fewer tests over the weekend, so the tally early in the week is generally lower compared to the rest of the week.
Wednesday's jump in cases really isn't out of the norm here.
Now let's look at the numbers.
More than three quarters of the infections stemmed from the greater Seoul area, but there were also chains of infections detected in non-capital regions, notably in Gyeongsangbuk-do Province.
The region saw 75 new infections and two-thirds of them were linked to a cluster outbreak at a middle school in Yeongju.

Will the recent cases affect the government's initiative to usher in a "exit strategy" for COVID?

It doesn't seem like it for now.
Health officials at the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters said Wednesday that they're currently drafting up a comprehensive plan that could return the nation to a pre-pandemic lifestyle.
They will announce the plan within this month.
Speaking of returning to normalcy, actually Jamsil baseball stadium opened yesterday for the first time in 104 days.
People who've been fully-vaccinated for at least two weeks had to show proof of vaccination at the gate to enter.
Even though they're accepting fully vaccinated spectators, the stadium was only open at 30 percent of its full capacity.

Right then,.. let's move on to vaccines now.
Are there any updates on the vaccine front that we should know about?

Health officials expanded the group of eligible recipients in the booster shot campaign.
They announced Tuesday that people who've gotten their COVID-19 vaccine doses overseas are also eligible for booster shots in South Korea.
So this might be pertinent to many people watching Arirang news right now.
These people can receive their booster shots six to eight months after being fully inoculated.

I heard the U.S. is also looking to greatly expand their booster shot campaign as well, can you tell us more about that?

Well, first, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to soon recommend boosters for people who are as young as 40 and received the Moderna or Pfizer shot.
The agency is also planning to allow a 'mix and match' approach for booster shots later this week, especially for people who've gotten the Johnson and Johnson shot.
That means that people in the U.S. can get a different kind of COVID-19 vaccine as a booster.
This move stems from a recent study that recorded a 76-fold rise in antibody levels for people who received a single dose of Johnson and Johnson and followed it up with a Moderna booster.
Moderna boosters showed the sharpest increase of antibody levels compared to people who've gotten the Pfizer or Johnson and Johnson booster.
This study, however, revealed preliminary results and relied on short-term findings from a small group of people.
So it doesn't conclusively determine that this "mix and match" approach is better, but this move will give more flexibility and perhaps lessen the appeal of Johnson and Johnson boosters.
Currently, the FDA has only given the green light for Pfizer boosters in certain populations that are considered high-risk, including people who are 65 and over.
But with swift action from the FDA, tens of millions more Americans could be eligible for extra shots by the end of this week.

Right, thank you for that report.
I'll talk to you again tomorrow for more updates.

Thank you.
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