As U.S. President Donald Trump officially asked South Korean President Moon Jae-in to supply Korean new coronavirus (COVID-19) test kits, the U.S. regulator is expected to grant the nod for Korean kits as soon as possible, industry officials said.
Some of the local companies have already signed a deal with some U.S. states to supply test kits.
Moon on Wednesday met with five CEOs of domestic diagnostics firms that obtained the urgent-use license for testing kits at the head office of Seegene in Songpa-gu in southern Seoul. The five companies are Kogene Biotech, Seegene, SolGent, SD Biosensor, and BioSewoom.
“U.S. President Trump requested urgent medical supplies such as diagnostic kits,” Moon said at the meeting, thanking them for quickly developing and releasing test kits.
Moon went on to say that many countries have officially asked for the Korean government’s support for the supply of diagnostic kits and that the government would actively support the diagnostic companies’ export.
Boosted by President Trump’s request for Korean test kits, anticipation for local testing kits’ winning U.S. approval is growing. Seegene, SolGent, and Kogene Biotech have applied for the nod from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Seegene, for instance, has signed a deal to ship 20,000 test kits to Los Angeles and surrounding county for $1.25 million, news reports said.
EONE-DIAGNOMICS Genome Center (EDGC), the parent company of SolGent, also agreed with New York, Nevada, and California state government to ship SolGent’s test kits for 1 million people.
“While we were discussing with U.S. state governments, the discussion made quick progress after President Trump’s request. So, we signed the letter of intent right away,” an official at EDGC said. “After getting the U.S. approval, we will start shipments immediately.”
Korean test kit makers are struggling to meet the surging global demand. They said they were already in full capacity to produce the kits and found it difficult to pick particular countries to concentrate the supply amid a worldwide health crisis.
“We’re exporting COVID-19 diagnostic kits to more than 40 nations, but the demand is still going up. I’m worried how we have to keep up with the soaring demand,” an official at Seegene said. “We’re considering expanding our production capacity.”
EDGC also said that it could not even count orders because the company was receiving too many calls from overseas distributors.
“We’re manufacturing 3,000 kits (for 300,000 tests) per week. Realistically, it is difficult to increase production further, so we’re adjusting proportions to give more kits to the existing contractors,” a company official said.
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