Gov't keeps spigot open for Covid vaccines, treatments

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Gov't keeps spigot open for Covid vaccines, treatments

A researcher at the Korean Vaccine Research and Development Center for Public Vaccines in Cheongju, North Chungcheong, in December testing the effect of SK Bioscience Covid-19 vaccine. It is the first to be tested after finishing phase 3 clinical trial. [YONHAP]

A researcher at the Korean Vaccine Research and Development Center for Public Vaccines in Cheongju, North Chungcheong, in December testing the effect of SK Bioscience Covid-19 vaccine. It is the first to be tested after finishing phase 3 clinical trial. [YONHAP]

 The government will keep pumping money into the development of Korean Covid vaccines and other treatments.
 
“We will be providing 6.3 trillion-won worth of support to the biohealth and raw and subsidiary materials industries by 2024,” said Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki on Thursday during a meeting.  
 
Hong said the goal was to help these industries become as dominant globally as Korea's semiconductor industry.  
 
“Our biggest focus will be on creating a biohealth ecosystem that makes the best use of leading talents and research-centered hospitals,” Hong said.  
 
Some 353.9 billion won will be ear-marked for the development of new drugs, innovative medical equipment and regenerative medicine.  
 
Currently there are eight Korean companies developing Covid-19 vaccines.  
 
SK Bioscience is the most likeliest to first introduce a Korean vaccine as it is the only company that has completed phase 3 clinical trials. 
 
According to SK Bioscience, in the first two trials, among 328 adults that were tested, 99 percent developed neutralizing antibodies.
 
The company has a technology transfer agreement with Novavax for its Covid-19 vaccine Nuvaxovid and direct sales rights in Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.  
 
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety approved the use of Novavax’s vaccine in Korea, the fifth after AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer and Janssen.  
 
The EU also approved Novavax’s vaccine last month.
 
According to the World Health Organization, there are 137 vaccines currently in development.  
 

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]
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