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COVID-19 test kit exports hit all-time low with ebbing pandemic


Data showed Monday exports of COVID-19 test kits in November hit an all-time low since the pandemic spread globally in 2020.

Exports of COVID-19 test kits in November logged $74.47 million, or 96 billion won, according to the Korea Customs Service.

The figure marks the lowest since April 2020, when the first wave of the pandemic spread widely across the globe.

At its peak, exports of test kits hit over $500 million in each of January and February this year.

The decrease in exports mirrored the drop in the number of COVID-19 cases globally.

The number of confirmed cases around the world recorded an average of some 3 million a day in January. By November, the average dropped to some 300,000 a day, according to global data tracker Our World in Data.

Following the decrease in exports for test kits, biopharmaceutical companies in the country are experiencing heavy losses.

Seegene, the producer of COVID-19 PCR test kits, saw its overall sales during the third quarter decrease 50.56 percent compared to the same period in 2021.

Market analysts expect the Korean pharma company to record annual sales of 881.6 billion won ($676 million) this year, after exceeding 1 trillion won in sales in 2020 and 2021.

An affiliate of coronavirus test-kit maker SD Biosensor and the producer of undiluted liquid for test kits, Bionote also predicted its shares would sell at half its expected price, at 9,000 won.

In its initial price offering on Thursday, the company had expected its shares to be priced at between 18,000 won and 22,000 won.

Tough market conditions have forced the bio industry to find new business opportunities through mergers and acquisitions.

SD Biosensor recently confirmed a merger with Meridian Bioscience, a US in-vitro diagnostic company. The merger, worth 2 trillion won, is to be sealed Jan. 31, 2023.

South Korean test-kit maker PCL, meanwhile, decided to acquire mCureX, a developer of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines and treatments, last month.

By Lee Yoon-seo (