South Korea will spend a total of 94 billion won ($80.3 million) this year to help local firms develop homegrown vaccines and treatment drugs to fight the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Friday.
The government also plans to set aside 260.4 billion won next year to develop vaccines and treatment drugs against the new coronavirus, officials said.
The plan came after senior officials held a pan-government meeting with executives from pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms earlier in the day.
Currently, clinical trials of 15 treatment drugs and one vaccine are under way in South Korea.
Last week, the government approved phase two and three trials for Celltrion Inc.'s CT-P59 treatment material that could be used to combat the novel coronavirus.
The advanced trials came after initial tests carried out on healthy people showed the material is not harmful for use.
The next stage of trials will be conducted on people with mild and severe symptoms, which will allow researchers to better check CT-P59's efficacy against COVID-19.
As part of efforts to help develop treatment drugs, the government will hold more discussions with Celltrion, officials said.
Globally, pharmaceutical firms and scientists are scrambling to develop a safe and effective vaccine against the new coronavirus, and many experts agree that mass production of such a vaccine could be possible in the middle of next year.
Last month, South Korea allowed Genexine Inc., a local biotechnology firm, to conduct a Phase I human trial of its potential coronavirus treatment drug. (Yonhap)