President Moon Jae-in on Thursday pledged 210 billion won ($172 million) for the development of medicines and vaccines, including one for the novel coronavirus, saying he wants the country to lead the world not just in virus control but also in the prevention and cure of COVID-19.
Presiding over a meeting of five related parties -- the government, academia, research institutions, hospitals and pharmaceutical firms -- Moon promised to cut the red tape to expedite clinical trials.
“With the investment, we will work to sharpen competitiveness of the national therapeutic and vaccine capability. Part of that is the research and development support for COVID-19 vaccines reflected in the government’s supplementary budget and the envisioned new research institute dedicated to new pathogens,” he said at Institut Pasteur Korea, a private lab in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, where the meeting took place.
Moon called for stronger public-private partnership to expedite development of COVID-19 therapies.
“The development of infectious disease vaccines and therapeutic agents takes a long time and a great deal of money, so it is difficult to achieve results in a short period of time only by private efforts,” he said.
During the meeting, the president encouraged researchers working to develop potential treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 and other diseases, expressing hopes that one day the bio industry can be South Korea’s new economic growth engine.
“As we have become a model country in coronavirus control, we can take the lead in the development of treatments and vaccines, giving hope to many people around the world as well as to our contracted economy,” he said.
A total of 126 countries have so far requested or inquired about test kits from Korea, including requests made on humanitarian grounds, according to the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.
By Park Han-na (firstname.lastname@example.org