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Authorities in S. Korea ramp up booster shot campaign to bring down number of critically ill patients Updated: 2021-11-12 05:45:00 KST

We start with the COVID-19 situation in South Korea.
It's been nearly two weeks since the country took its first steps in its "gradual return to normal" scheme.

Yes and while the number of infections and critically ill patients go up, authorities say the current uptick isn't overburdening health system.
If numbers continue to rise though we might not be able to move to the second step of the COVID-19 exit strategy.

For the latest, we have Shin Ye-eun in studio. Good morning, Ye-eun.

Good morning.

Ye-eun, let's start with the number of daily cases expected today.

We're expecting to see Friday's figure hover around 25-hundred.
Up to 9 pm yesterday, 2-thousand 1-hundred 53 cases were identified.
This is 1-hundred 15 more than the number at the same time last week.

Do officials expect the number of critically ill patients to go up as well? This has been a rising concern

Right. Throughout the week we've seen the number of critically ill patients go up, reaching another all-time high on Thursday.
The tally was 4-hundred 73.
To that, KDCA chief, Jeong Eun-kyeong cautioned that if the number keeps rising, the country could face difficulties moving to the second stage of the "gradual return to normal" scheme set for December.

At the same time, authorities say the uptick is still within the medical system's current capacity, and there are plenty of hospital beds available.
That's why they said now is not the time to discuss emergency plans that would reverse the easing of measures.
They also attributed the number of critically ill patients to the length of this current wave of the pandemic.

"We're seeing numbers go up because the pandemic has gone on for so long. That's why we also recognize this can affect our current medical capacity and are asking for people at high risk to get their booster shots."

Authorities are also considering reducing the interval between booster shots, after the original jab, from 6 months to five, specifically targeting senior citizens.
As of now, those over 60, younger people working in the healthcare sector, and Janssen recipients have been getting the extra jab.
To make booster shots even more accessible, from today authorities are allowing target groups to reserve leftover vaccines using Naver and Kakao Talk on the day they want their jabs.

Antibody therapies are under development to prevent patients becoming critically ill and dying. We hear some progress has been made on that front by a South Korean company

South Korea's "Celltrion" just received the greenlight from the European Medicines Agency for its antibody therapy called "Regkirona".
Europe's drug regulators recommend the treatment for adults who do not require extra oxygen support, yet are still at high risk of severe illness.
It is now just waiting approval from the European Commission for marketing authorization.
"Regkirona" has been found to lead to fewer hospitalizations and deaths.
It's a monoclonal antibody that attaches itself to the virus and mimics natural human antibodies to fight infections.

Experts are telling us that treatments are supplementary to getting vaccinated. Recently, Moderna's Chief Medical Officer revealed information on the efficacy of their vaccines to fight breakthrough cases. Tell us more.

Right, Moderna said its COVID-19 vaccine had fewer breakthrough cases than Pfizer's.
CNBC reported on Thursday that Moderna's CMO touted data from the CDCthat showed 86 breakthrough cases per 100-thousand for Moderna recipients and 1-hundred 35 from Pfizer recipients.
The CMO's comments came following discussions on the high percentage of young men reporting heart inflammation after getting Moderna shots.
Data from France on males aged 12 to 29 showed there were 13.3 cases of myocarditis per 100-thousand Moderna recipients.
With only 2.7 among Pfizer recipients.
But, the CMO defended use of the vaccine saying the protection it offers against hospitalization and death outweighs the myocarditis risk.
He said unvaccinated people are at an eleven fold increased risk of dyingwhereas reported heart conditions were generally mild.

Thank you, Ye-eun, for your coverage this week.
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