Gov’t offers help to find Covid cure

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Gov’t offers help to find Covid cure

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety is developing a program to help local companies and institutions’ research and development (R&D) efforts into treatment options and vaccines for the novel coronavirus, the authority said Monday.

The new program is aimed at cutting the timeline for clinical trials and drug approvals, the ministry said.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced last week it will pour out 215.1 billion won ($176.7 million) over the next decade, starting in July, to run a national R&D program on vaccine development for infectious diseases, including the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

There are currently at least 20 companies and institutions in Korea that have begun working toward therapies and vaccines for Covid-19.

The ministry said it will provide scientific counsel for government-run institutions to identify drug candidates, and help companies and research centers develop clinical trial protocols for experimental therapies.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety previously said it will allow patients with mild cases of Covid-19 under treatment to be included in clinical trials while expediting approvals for Covid-19 treatment-designated hospitals.

The ministry vowed to place a project manager for each product under development while setting up an exclusive hotline for companies to discuss their progress.

The ministry added it will also require minimal data for potentially viable treatment and vaccine options to enter clinical trials. It promised to review clinical trial applications for products already in use within seven days and new substances within 15 days.

BY KO JUN-TAE [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]

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