South Korean officials find no direct link between flu vaccine and recent deaths

The country’s government has rolled out a flu vaccine campaign, concerned about the potential simultaneous spread of coronavirus and influenza.

At least 36 people have died after taking flu vaccinations since last Friday, including a 17-year-old. The average age of those who died was 74, according to the South Korean Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

As of Friday, more than 14 million people had gotten the flu vaccine, of which 9.4 million were children, elderly, and pregnant women, according to the KDCA.

Ki Moran, a professor at South Korea’s National Cancer Centre, said the flu vaccine is known to cause serious side effects in one out of 10 million people.

In 2019, 227,000 people over the age of 65 died in South Korea, she added. That’s an average of 621 deaths a day, to put the recent figures into perspective.

The KDCA decided on Friday not to suspend the flu vaccinations. The vaccination expert committee will hold a meeting Saturday morning to review additional data, according to a KDCA statement.

Rare side effects

This might be your most important flu shot ever

The KDCA’s Friday meeting came after rising scrutiny from experts and politicians.

On Friday, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun called for a thorough investigation into the deaths, citing public anxiety, according to a press release by the Health Ministry. He did not call for a halt to the vaccination campaign.

The Korean Medical Association, a coalition of 130,000 doctors, has urged the government to suspend the vaccination program for a week until they determined the cause of the deaths.

In a statement, the Korean Vaccine Society emphasized the importance of the flu vaccine, especially “for children, the elderly, and patients with chronic diseases and low immune system.” The organization cited concerns about the possible spread of flu during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Experts globally are preparing for flu season in the middle of the pandemic. “This is a critical year for us to try to take flu as much off the table as we can,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in an interview with the AMA’s JAMA Network.

One reason is to decrease the strain on public health services and hospitals, which are bracing for a winter wave. Experts say it possible to get Covid-19 and the flu simultaneously — and, because flu symptoms look so similar to that of Covid-19, it will be impossible to rule out a coronavirus diagnosis without a test. That means a case of the flu can cause substantial disruption to work and school.

In South Korea, Covid-19 has infected 25,775 people and killed 457, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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How Effective Will Uber South Africa’s New Medicine Delivery Service Actually Be?


Why Global Citizens Should Care

Global Citizen campaigns on the UN Global Goals, including Goal 3 for good health and well-being, which is aimed at promoting access to quality health care for all people. This goal cannot be achieved if medication and health care remains out of reach for so many around the world. Join us and take action on this issue here. 

Uber South Africa recently announced a partnership with Medicare, a health care and pharmacy group, to launch the delivery of over-the-counter medication using the Uber Eats app. 

But as groundbreaking as this announcement may sound, the service may well leave a lot of South Africans out of the picture. 

Because of the partnership, South Africans can now order schedule 1 and 2 medicines (meaning medication that is available for purchase without a prescription) for delivery to their door. This comes after the success that Uber Eats has had with its grocery delivery service that was launched during the national COVID-19 lockdown.  

Medicare CEO Tim Knapp went on to say in a statement that the partnership is just the beginning and the company would continue to find ways to prioritise convenience. “We strongly believe in reinventing pharmacy, and thanks to this partnership with Uber Eats this is made possible,” he said. 

Access to medicine is an obstacle for many South Africans. While the government has worked to make essential medicines more affordable, the poorest citizens live the furthest away from health care facilities. This means that a lot of their time and money is spent on transport to get to clinics and pharmacies, or they simply cannot afford the transport in the first place. 

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While safe access to medication is crucial in a time when South Africans have been encouraged to limit their movements, the introduction of this new delivery service may not make that big of a difference in most South Africans’ lives. Here’s why: 

Medicine delivery services already exists

The delivery of medicine is not a new concept in South Africa. Retail pharmacy giants Clicks and Dischem have been delivering medicine long before the pandemic. The difference is that both pharmacies administer prescribed chronic medication for delivery rather than the over-the-counter medicine Uber Eats will be looking to provide. 

Clicks and Dischem also work to provide patients with reminders that their medication will be delivered at a certain date or that they require a new prescription. 

In contrast, the purpose of the Uber Eats service is for South Africans to order medicine on the app as and when they need it, which works within the context of the company whose main service is to deliver food to people as and when they are hungry. 

Uber Eats is also not the first food delivery app to offer the service in South Africa. Mr Delivery teamed up with retail grocery store Checkers earlier this year to offer the delivery of medicine from

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Waukesha South Students Organize Unofficial Homecoming Dance

WAUKESHA,WI— A group of students from Waukesha South High School plan to hold an unofficial homecoming dance in November after their scheduled dance was canceled due to the pandemic. A GoFundMe page was set up last week by a Waukesha South student to pay for the venue, speakers and decorations.

“This pandemic has taken a huge toll on our high school experience as it is,” the GoFundMe post said. “With school every other day, and having to navigate through a multitude of websites to maintain steady grades in an unchanged, and unadapted curriculum. It’s stressful.”

The fundraiser post said seniors were already “deprived” of their junior prom. Patch reached out to the student who created the post but had not heard back as of Thursday.

The student-organized event is being held Nov. 21 at the Waukesha Elks Lodge, 2301 Springdale Road, Waukesha.

“With all the changes happening in laws about gatherings and social distancing, we are prepared for everything,” the GoFundMe posting said. “After the latest mandate we are still on track of holding the event, however if something were to change we will be donating the money to The National Alliance for Mental Health to help the teenage mental health affected negatively by the pandemic.”

According to a WISN 12 News report, staff at Elks Lodge said they will require masks and a maximum of 50 people in a facility that has a capacity for 450.

Patch reached out to the district, which released the following statement:

“Neither Waukesha South High School nor the School District of Waukesha is endorsing the planned Homecoming event, or the GoFundMe created. The District is working consistently to remind our kids, families, and community that we need to stay vigilant with our mitigation strategies at school, at home, and in the community to keep moving forward together. “

Coronavirus concerns

The cases of coronavirus continue to increase.

There are 22 student and eight staff coronavirus cases in the Waukesha School District, according to the district’s website. There are 415 students and 56 staff members quarantined.

Waukesha South has the highest number of cases in the school district, with 10 student coronavirus cases and 125 students being quarantined. For Waukesha South staff, there is one coronavirus case and nine being quarantined.

The district has drawn attention regarding its plan, which began Oct. 19, to increase in-person learning for middle and high school students to four days a week. Prior to Monday, middle and high school students were using a hybrid model, attending in person two days a week and doing virtual learning from home the other three days.

Parents expressed concern about the reopening plans at an Oct. 14 school board meeting. The school board is to determine at the Nov. 11 meeting if it is safe to return to a full five days of in-person learning.

A Change.org petition was created to request “gating criteria” from the district. The petition, which has had 756 signatures, is asking what data is being

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Noem says South Dakota is doing ‘good’ as virus surges

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Gov. Kristi Noem has insisted South Dakota is excelling in its handling of the pandemic, even though the state surpassed 9,000 active coronavirus cases on Thursday and matched an all-time high for deaths reported in a day.

The state ranks second in the country in new infections per capita over the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins University data. There were about 1,036 new cases per 100,000 people in South Dakota, meaning that about one in every 97 people in the state has tested positive for the virus in the last two weeks. Health officials on Thursday also reported an all-time high of 973 new cases.

But the Republican governor has used her refusal to issue mandates to vault to nationwide relevance among conservatives. She told Fox News on Wednesday night: “We’re doing really good in South Dakota. We’re managing COVID-19, but also our economy is thriving.”

Health officials reported Thursday that the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 reached a record high with 355 in hospitals, including 75 in Intensive Care Units. The state matched its record of 14 deaths in a day.

Noem has said COVID-19 hospitalizations account for a relatively small percentage of total hospital capacity and that hospitals are still handling an influx of patients for other health issues. Currently, 35% of general-care hospital beds and 36% of Intensive Care Units remain open, according to the Department of Health.


However, both of the state’s largest hospital systems have altered the logistics of some elective procedures to free up space and staff to handle the virus surge. Without a statewide mask mandate in place, the hospital systems have also urged people to wear masks when they are around people outside of their households.

The hospital systems got support on that message from Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken, who earlier this week put it bluntly: “Wear a dang mask.”

But Noem has made it clear she will not institute a mask requirement and doubts the usefulness of the recommendation from the nation’s top health experts that widespread masking helps prevent infections from spreading.

In an opinion article published Wednesday, the governor pointed to doctors who say it is not clear how effective masks are in preventing infections. She said places with mask mandates have still seen case growth, but conceded that masks are “appropriate” in hospitals or when caring for someone with COVID-19 symptoms.

Noem’s opinion piece also included a link to an article on masks from a conservative medical group called Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. The group has a history of staking out unorthodox positions on medical issues, including calling mass vaccinations “equivalent to human experimentation” and opposing Medicare, the government-funded health insurance for older people.

More recently, the group has s poken out against lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus and encouraged treating COVID-19 with hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug that President Donald Trump pushed before the Food and Drug Administration revoked its emergency-use authorization. Noem also

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South Korean deaths spark flu vaccine safety fears

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean officials refused to suspend the country’s seasonal flu inoculation programme on Thursday, despite growing calls to do so following the deaths of at least 13 people who were vaccinated in recent days.

FILE PHOTO: A man gets an influenza vaccine at a hospital in Seoul, South Korea, October 21, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Health authorities said they have found no direct links between the deaths, which include a 17-year-old boy, and the vaccines being given under a programme to inoculate some 19 million teenagers and senior citizens for free.

“The number of deaths has increased, but our team sees low possibility that the deaths resulted from the shots,” Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), told parliament.

South Korea ordered 20% more flu vaccines this year to ward off what it calls a “twindemic” of people with flu developing potential COVID-19 complications, and overburdening hospitals over the winter.

“I understand and regret that people are concerned about the vaccine,” Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said on Thursday, while confirming the free programme would go ahead.

“We’re looking into the causes but will again thoroughly examine the entire process in which various government agencies are involved, from production to distribution,” he added.

The country’s free vaccine programme uses doses manufactured by local drug makers GC Pharma, SK Bioscience and Ilyang Pharmaceutical Co 007570.KS, along with France’s Sanofi SASY.PA and Britain’s Glaxosmithkline GSK.L. The vaccines are distributed by local companies LG Chem Ltd 051910.KS and Boryung Biopharma Co. Ltd., a unit of Boryung Pharm Co. Ltd. 003850.KS.

GC Pharma, LG Chem, SK Bioscience and Boryung declined to comment. Ilyang Pharmaceutical, Sanofi and GSK did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

It was not immediately clear if any of the South Korean-manufactured vaccines were exported, or whether those supplied by Sanofi and GSK were also being used in other countries.

Kim Chong-in, leader of the main opposition People Power party, said the programme should be halted until the exact causes of the deaths had been verified.

Health authorities said on Wednesday that a preliminary investigation into six deaths found no direct connection to the vaccines. No toxic substances were found in the vaccines, and at least five of the six people investigated had underlying conditions, officials said.

EARLIER SUSPENSION

The free programme has proved controversial from its launch last month. Its start was suspended for three weeks after it was discovered that some 5 million doses, which need to be refrigerated, had been exposed to room temperature while being transported to a medical facility.

Officials said 8.3 million people had been inoculated since the programme resumed on Oct. 13, with around 350 cases of adverse reactions reported.

The government is also offering a paid vaccine programme which, combined with the free programme, aims to inoculate about 30 million of the country’s 52-million population. Under the paid programme, the purchaser can select the vaccine provider from a larger pool that includes the

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Number of South Koreans dying after flu shot rises, prompts vaccine worries

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) – At least 13 South Koreans have died after receiving flu shots in recent days, according to official and local media reports, ramping up fears about vaccine safety even as authorities rule out a link.

Health authorities said on Wednesday they had no plans to suspend a programme to inoculate around 19 million people for free after a preliminary investigation into six deaths found no direct connection to the vaccines.

No toxic substances had been found in the vaccines, and at least five of the six people investigated had underlying conditions, officials said.

Officials have reported nine deaths following flu vaccinations and the Yonhap news agency reported another four on Thursday.

The deaths, which include a 17-year-old boy and a man in his 70s, come just a week after the free flu shot programme for teenagers and senior citizens was restarted.

The programme was suspended for three weeks after it was discovered that some 5 million doses, which need to be refrigerated, had been exposed to room temperature while being transported to a medical facility.

South Korea’s vaccines come from a variety of sources. Manufacturers include local drug makers GC Pharma, SK Bioscience and Ilyang Pharmaceutical Co, along with France’s Sanofi and Britain’s Glaxosmithkline. Distributors include LG Chem Ltd and Boryung Biopharma Co. Ltd., a unit of Boryung Pharm Co. Ltd..

GC Pharma, LG Chem, SK Bioscience and Boryung declined to comment. Ilyang Pharmaceutical, Sanofi and GSK could not immediately be reached for comment.

South Korea had extended its seasonal vaccine programme this year to ward off any potential COVID-19 complications and overburdening hospitals over the winter.

Officials said 8.3 million people have been inoculated with the free flu vaccine since it resumed on Oct. 13, with around 350 cases of adverse reactions reported.

The highest number of deaths linked to the seasonal flu vaccination was six in 2005, according to the Yonhap news agency. Officials have said it is difficult to make comparisons to previous years because of the greater numbers of people taking the vaccine this year.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Sangmi Cha; editing by Jane Wardell)

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South Korea Tries to Quell Anxiety Over Flu Shots After 13 Unexplained Deaths

Then, earlier this month, 615,000 doses of a flu vaccine​ shipped by another company were also recalled after some of them were found to contain white particles, which the government described as being a harmless protein. Almost 18,000 people had received doses before they were recalled.

No serious harm had been reported from either those lots, though dozens of people who received those doses reported fevers or other minor complaints — which are common reactions to flu shots, officials said. None of nine people who died had received vaccines from those that had been recalled, they added.

After suspending the vaccination program for teenagers for three weeks, it resumed on Oct. 13. Three days later, a 17-year-old boy in Incheon, just west of Seoul, died after receiving his shot. On Tuesday, a 77-year-old woman was found dead at her home in Gochang, south of Seoul, after being vaccinated a day earlier. On the same day, an 82-year-old man who had also been inoculated died in the central city of Daejeon.

Four of the five people who died on Wednesday ranged in age from 53 to 89. Information about the two other people who died, one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday, has not been released.

Nine of those who died, all of whom had received flu shots in the past, received vaccines supplied by several different local drugmakers, officials said.

“Since most people who got flu shots with the same vaccines reported no major problems, we concluded that those vaccines do not contain toxic materials,” said Kim Joong-gon, ​a professor of medicine at Seoul National University who led a team of investigators. “We​ concluded that we can exclude ​the vaccine ​as a problem.”​

In general, flu vaccines have a good safety record. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that the body of scientific evidence over decades “overwhelmingly” supports their safety.

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Yanga SC part ways with South African fitness coach

Tanzania giants Young Africans (Yanga SC) have parted ways with fitness coach Riedoh Berdien.

Berdien joined the Jangwani giants alongside Belgian coach Luc Eymael, who was later fired at the end of the 2019-20 Mainland Premier League season after finishing without silverware.

Despite the exit of Eymael, Berdien remained at Yanga and at one time worked as the assistant coach as the team searched for a successor to replace Eymael.

The team then hired Serbian Zlatko Krmpotic, who worked with Berdien, before he was also fired after only 37 days in charge.

Berdien has exclusively told Goal he has also left the giants, who are now under another new coach – Cedric Kaze – who signed a three-year contract last Friday.

“I would like to thank Yanga supporters, players and sponsors for really making me be part of the Yanga family,” Berdien said in a signed statement obtained by Goal.

“As we come to an end of our journey, I will like to show my appreciation to all those who have supported the team in helping to build the club into the giants they are known to be.

“As we part ways I wish this great club all the best in the future.”

Yanga are currently preparing for their next league match against Polisi Tanzania set for Thursday at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium.

The Timu ya Mwananchi are currently enjoying a good run of form in the top-flight as they have managed to win five matches from the six played so far this campaign.

However, the team will miss the services of two players – Mapinduzi Balama and Ally Makame – due to injury and malaria, respectively.

According to Yanga team manager Hafidhi Saleh, both players were in line to play a role in the fixture but have now been ruled out.

“[Balama] is working his way back to full fitness and has started light exercise to make him fit, however, the medical team is yet to confirm his fitness if he can join the first team training,” Saleh told Goal.

“On the other hand, Makame is suffering from a bout of malaria and he has been excused from the squad, we will check him out if he will be available for the next match.”

Balama has become a regular in Yanga’s team where he scored three goals last season, including the game against rivals Simba SC which gave him a chance to be nominated for the goal of the season award.

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Five South Koreans Die After Getting Flu Shots, Sparking Vaccine Fears | World News

SEOUL (Reuters) – Five people have died after getting flu shots in South Korea in the past week, authorities said, raising concerns over the vaccine’s safety just as the seasonal inoculation programme is expanded to head off potential COVID-19 complications.

Authorities said there was no reason to believe the deaths were linked to the vaccine but an investigation, including post mortems, was underway.

“It makes it hard for us to put out a categorical statement,” Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told a briefing on Wednesday about the deaths, which include a 17-year-old boy and a man in his 70s.

Coming just weeks after the rollout of the national vaccine programme was suspended over safety worries, the deaths have dominated headlines in South Korea.

Officials last month announced plans to procure 20% more flu vaccines for the winter than the previous year to inoculate 30 million people in a bid to prevent the health system being overloaded by patients with flu and COVID-19 exposure.

However, the start of a free jab programme for around 19 million eligible people was suspended for three weeks after it was discovered that some 5 million doses, which need to be refrigerated, had been exposed to room temperature while being transported to a medical facility.

Boosting public trust in vaccines has become a major global challenge this year, as some countries rush to approve experimental COVID-19 vaccines before full safety and efficacy studies have been completed.

South Korea’s flu vaccines are supplied by different drugmakers, including LG Chem Ltd <051910.KS> and Boryung Biopharma Co. Ltd., a unit of Boryung Pharm Co. Ltd. <003850.KS>. A Boryung official told Reuters the company was aware of the reported deaths, but had no immediate comment. LG Chem said the company would follow government advice.

A 17-year-old boy who died on Friday was the first death noted by officials to follow receipt of the vaccine. The boy died two days after receiving the flu shot in Incheon, near the capital Seoul.

A man in his 70s, who had Parkinson’s disease and arrhythmia, was the most recent case. He died in Daegu on Wednesday, a day after receiving the flu vaccine. Daegu officials said the man had received vaccines since 2015 with no prior adverse reactions.

Officials said 8.3 million people have been inoculated with the free flu vaccine since it resumed on Oct. 13, with around 350 cases of adverse reactions reported. The highest number of deaths linked to the seasonal flu vaccination was six in 2005, according to Yonhap news agency.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, trust in vaccines was a growing challenge for public health bodies. The World Health Organization named vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 global health threats for last year.

In South Korea, a poll earlier this month found that 62% of 2,548 respondents in Gyeonggi province, near Seoul, would not get vaccinated against COVID-19, even if a vaccine is approved, until all safety questions are fully answered.

(Reporting by Sangmi Cha; Editing by

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South Korea tests at hospitals, nursing homes

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea on Monday began testing tens of thousands of employees of hospitals and nursing homes to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks at live-in facilities.

Fifteen of the 76 latest cases reported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency were from the southern port city of Busan, where more than 70 infections have been linked to a hospital for the elderly.

The disease caused by the coronavirus can be more serious in older people and those with existing health conditions like high-blood pressure.

Health workers have been scrambling to track infections in the Seoul metropolitan area, home to about half of the country’s 51 million people, as the virus spreads in a variety of places, including hospitals, churches, schools and workplaces.

From Monday, they will start a process to test 130,000 workers at hospitals, nursing homes and senior centers in the greater capital area. Officials will also test 30,000 patients who have visited and used these facilities, but will leave out hospitalized patients, who already receive tests when they are admitted.


Officials plan to complete the tests within October and could possibly expand the screening to other regions if needed.

South Korea has confirmed 25,275 cases of coronavirus infection, including 444 deaths from COVID-19.

In other developments around the Asia-Pacific region:

— India has reported 579 fatalities from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, the lowest increase in three months, driving its death toll to 114,610. The Health Ministry on Monday also reported 55,722 more people infected, raising India’s total to more than 7.5 million. A government-appointed committee of scientists said Sunday the disease was likely to “run its course” by February if people used masks and adhered to distancing measures. The number of new infections confirmed each day has declined for a month. The committee said even if active cases increased during the upcoming festive season and cold weather, they were unlikely to surpass India’s record daily high of 97,894 cases.

— China’s economic growth accelerated to 4.9% over a year earlier in the latest quarter as a shaky recovery from the coronavirus pandemic gathered strength. China, where virus outbreaks began in December, became the first major economy to return to growth with a 3.2% expansion in the quarter ending in June. Output contracted 6.8% in the first quarter. The ruling Communist Party began easing anti-disease controls and reopening factories, shops and offices in March after declaring the virus under control but has kept monitoring and some travel controls in place.

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