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PM directs setup of pan-govt group on COVID-19 vaccine development

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Tuesday instructed relevant government agencies to compose a pan-governmental group to assist the development of vaccines and treatments for the novel coronavirus.

The directive comes as health authorities aim to develop vaccines in Korea by the second half of 2021 or 2022, and a plasma-based treatment within the next two to three months, depending on the availability of blood from virus survivors.

“Development of vaccines and medicine for COVID-19 is underway worldwide. … Preventing the virus from spreading by practicing social distancing and proactively identifying and isolating patients is crucial at this point. But the fundamental solution will be vaccines and medicine,” Chung said at a daily status update meeting on the virus.

Research centers are to share basic technology they have acquired through research and development, and to provide the necessary animals and technical assistance, while those in the medical field and academia will share clinical data and samples, among other things.

With experts working around the clock in search of a cure, 70 coronavirus vaccines are in development worldwide and three are in clinical trials, according to the World Health Organization.

To expedite the development of vaccines, the government will extend “maximum support,” including eased regulations and funding.

“We are in dire need of this to prevent the virus. It is also an opportunity for the bio-industry, the future growth engine, to take a big leap forward,” Chung said.

“We have won recognition from countries worldwide as a model case in disinfection and the development of test kits. The private and public sector, research centers, the health care sector and academia have to team up for another miracle.”

Meanwhile, Korea reported 27 new cases of the virus, bringing the total to 10,564 as of Tuesday at 12:01 a.m., while five people succumbed to the pathogen, which has killed 222, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

By Kim Bo-gyung (lisakim425@heraldcorp.com)
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