Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun speaks during a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters held at the government complex in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
South Korea's first homegrown coronavirus treatment candidate from Celltrion Inc. is expected to be used to treat patients starting early February, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Monday.
"We expect the drug to be used from early next month in antivirus activities in the field if the review process goes smoothly," Chung said during an interagency meeting on the COVID-19 response held at the government complex in Seoul.
The prime minister said health authorities convened a panel of experts to review the safety and efficacy of the drug. According to Chung, the government is scheduled to announce the results of the meeting later in the day.
Celltrion announced last week that it has conducted the trial on 327 patients of the novel coronavirus to evaluate the efficacy and safety of CT-P59, also known as Regdanvimab. It said that CT-P59 decreased the rate of COVID-19 patients developing severe cases, which require hospital care, by 54 percent.
The firm earlier submitted an application for conditional marketing authorization of the product to the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.
Also during the government meeting, Chung noted that the nation's new coronavirus cases dropped to the 300 range for the first time since November, highlighting the significant decline in cases from late last year.
"The number of new cases fell to the 300 range for the first time since late November. We begin this week with a pledge to achieve a clear trend of stability (in the virus situation)," Chung said.
The country added 389 more COVID-19 cases, including 366 local infections, raising the total caseload to 72,729, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
Monday's daily figure marked a sharp fall from 520 posted a day earlier and is the smallest daily caseload since Nov. 25.
The third wave of COVID-19 here reached its peak on Dec. 25, with the daily tally reaching 1,240, but has been showing signs of a slowdown since. The daily figure has been staying in the 500s for the past six days. (Yonhap)