arirang mobile

S. Korea reports 1,347 new cases on Tuesday following long weekend
Updated: 2021-10-12 09:38:12 KST
We start with the latest on the coronavirus situation in South Korea.
Despite a dip in the number of confirmed cases, local health authorities are on alert over a potential uptick in new infections as we move further into the week.
For more, joining us live in the studio is Shin Ye-eun, good afternoon.

Good afternoon.

Let's start with the daily figure for Tuesday. Though we have seen a drop compared to last week authorities have warned that this number could easily go up following the three-day weekend.

Right, on Tuesday the total caseload stood at 1-thousand 3-hundred 47.
Though this was a big drop compared to last week when the caseload hovered around two-thousand authorities remain on high alert saying the lower numbers are due to fewer tests done over the weekend.
They added they'll prepare for an uptick in COVID-19 cases this week because many would have travelled across the country over the long weekend.

Moving on to the vaccination front we're hearing South Korea will be administering booster shots from today. Who will be the first to get them?

Medical workers will be the first in line to get booster shots.
To give you more details, some 45-thousand medical staff who have worked on the frontlines fighting COVID-19 are eligible.
Most of them received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine back in March or April.
So their booster shot will be a Pfizer shot which they can get at the medical facility they work for.
Next up will be seniors aged 75 and older, or those who work at relevant facilities like nursing homes.
This aligns with the WHO's recent recommendation that people with weakened immune systems should be given a booster shot.

Aside from the vaccines another major development is the potential introduction of oral medication for COVID-19.
U.S. pharmaceutical firm Merck requested for emergency use authorization from the FDA. Tell us more.

Right, we've now entered a phase in the pandemic where we need to think of living with COVID-19. That's why drug makers around the world are trying to develop COVID-19 pills.
Leading the race, U.S. drug maker Merck has developed an antiviral pill called "molnupiravir."
On Monday, Merck asked U.S. regulators to authorize its pill for treating patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 infections.

Now, if this pill gets approved, it would become the first oral medication for COVID-19. What are some pros and cons of this pill coming onto the market?

It's good that you mentioned pros and cons.
The biggest pro is that now you can treat COVID-19 much more conveniently AT HOME.
All you need to do is take the pill.
Another pro is that the pill reportedly lowers the rate of hospitalizations and deaths by 50 percent.
This means no more expensive visits to the hospital just because you have the early symptoms of COVID-19.
And it's also been proven to be effective against the highly contagious Delta variant.

But we also do have to think of the cons.
Those include the cost, which is around 700 dollars per person for the full treatment, although according to an insider at Merck, the final price could still change.
Also you have to take 4 capsules two times a day over the course of five days.
So over the course of the treatment, you'd be taking a total of 40 pills.
Also, health experts say that while it could be a game changer, it's not a substitute for COVID-19 vaccines.
Take a listen to what a health expert from Texas has to say on Merck's latest treatment.

"And so there's a lot of attractive features about it, just like there is for Tamiflu, for influenza, which is another way to think about thisIt does reduce the severity of illness but doesn't prevent it entirely.Whether or not you wind up taking this medicine for whatever reason, you should still get vaccinated because that's the best way to prevent you from getting sick."

Not to mention Merck has JUST applied for emergency use authorization in the United States.
They actually pledged to produce enough pills for 10 million people by the end of this year, of which a supply for 1.7 million would first be given out in the States.
While countries like South Korea have said they have negotiated with Merck to secure some of their pills we are still left to see when this will happen.

As of now, I guess we will all have to wait for Merck to receive FDA approval in the U.S. Thank you for your report Ye-eun.
Reporter : graceshin@arirang.com