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Celltrion pledges clinical trial of coronavirus treatment in 6 months

Celltrion Chairman promises COVID-19 antibody in six months via a YouTube live webcast on Thursday.
Celltrion Chairman promises COVID-19 antibody in six months via a YouTube live webcast on Thursday.
Celltrion Chairman Seo Jung-jin on Thursday took to YouTube live to share the group’s ongoing efforts on coronavirus cure development, which he foresees will reach human clinical trial stage in six months’ time.

“Under normal circumstances, the process takes around 18 months, but given the emergency in South Korea, we will closely communicate with the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety to initiate our antibody’s use on confirmed patients after six months,” Seo said.

Celltrion had secured the blood sample of a recovered COVID-19 patient from the Seoul National University College of Medicine in February and has been gathering more samples from Chonnam National University and Chosun University in Gwangju. By end-March the company will narrow down the antibody candidates and by end-April, will select the most potent pipeline.

Celltrion Chairman Seo Jung-jin's first-ever YouTube live (Celltrion)
Celltrion Chairman Seo Jung-jin's first-ever YouTube live (Celltrion)


“As we develop a COVID-19 cure, we will simultaneously develop a diagnostics kit that people can use themselves without a medical professional,” Seo said, the company hopes to be ready in May at the earliest, or August at the latest.

“Furthermore, Celltrion will provide a total of 1 million masks to citizens of Incheon, Gyeonggi Province, and Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province -- the cities where our operation facilities are located,” said Seo.

Seo said he will not consider the marketability of the COVID-19 treatment, which would cost at least 300 billion won ($248.8 million)

“We are doing this so that Korea will become an exemplary case for eradicating COVID-19,” Seo said.

Celltrion is still pursuing the project to build China’s biggest biologics drug plant in Wuhan, the biologics cluster of China and the unfortunate epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)
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