The government of South Korea plans on allocating $237.1 million (262.7 billion won) to support local biotech companies and their efforts to develop vaccines and therapy candidates targeting COVID-19 shared during a recent government committee meeting. Focusing on Korea’s national COVID-19 support strategy involving therapies and vaccines the meetings had some high level officials including Kwon Deok-cheol, Minister of Health and Welfare and Choi Ki-young, Minister of Science and ICT as well as Kim Gang-lip, Minister of Food and Drug Safety. The group consensus: the development of a portfolio of new COVID-19 candidates, covering the spectrum of disease lifecycle from early onset to later stage matched to near-phase 3 clinical trials. High on the minds of the leadership—oral treatments or therapies for patients with severe COVID-19. With a goal of introducing locally developed COVID-19 therapies, the government funders seek candidates, such as synthetic antigen vaccines and offers a range of supporting services.
High Cost of Clinical Trials
As reported in the Korea Biomedical Review, Korean companies struggle with the high cost of clinical trials, in fact during the meeting here they refer to research as the “largest stumbling block in the development of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.” The government plans on supporting these studies with an infusion of about $130 million
Government Support Moves
Patient recruitment efforts, especially for large Phase 3 clinical trials overseas represents a key area for support. The central government here will also offer a shared service to help biotech sponsors formulate strategy as well as design and conduct clinical trials overseas with a clinical trial consultation center, reports Kwak Sung-sun with the Korea Biomedical Review.
Moreover, the government’s food and drug ministry will set up a new unit to expedite the approval process. Other services center on exports as well as a monitoring team targeting promising vaccines abroad for Korean acquisition.
The latest financial commitment for COVID-19 boosts the national government spend by 20%, leading to this year. 15.8 billion won to support studies for the most promising treatment; also 56.4 billion won to set up a lab and facilities and 34.5 billion won to develop actual next generation infectious disease equipment and testing assets via support to various organizations. A total of 152 billion won will be spent subsidizing various clinical trials services.