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‘Government should stock Covid-19 vaccines even after virus disappears’
  • By Kim Yun-mi
  • Published 2020.05.07 16:43
  • Updated 2020.05.07 16:43
  • comments 0

“To develop a vaccine for the new coronavirus infection, it is important to connect contract research organizations with production facilities, global networks, and government policies. The government should quickly build all the procedures from development to approval, manufacturing, and sales and continue supporting them steadily.”

Seong Baik-lin, head of the vaccine division in the pan-government support group to develop Covid-19 treatment and vaccine, speaks at the 2020 Korea Healthcare Congress Online Conference on Wednesday.

So said Seong Baik-lin, who heads the vaccine division in the pan-government support group to develop Covid-19 treatment and vaccine, at the 2020 Korea Healthcare Congress Online Conference on Wednesday. He is a professor of the Biotechnology Department of Yonsei University.

Professor Seong is also leading the government-initiated 10-year project to commercialize Korean-made vaccines and secure “vaccine sovereignty.” The government plans to spend about 215.1 billion won ($175.4 million) from July this year to June 2029 to develop eight vaccines and support research up to phase-2 clinical trials of the vaccines.

The eight targeted vaccines are to fight against whooping cough (DTaP), Japanese encephalitis, hepatitis A, severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS), norovirus enteritis, next-generation tuberculosis, hand and foot disease, and general-purpose influenza. Along with them, the government will also work on a vaccine immune enhancer and a rapid production delivery system technology.

For the rapid and successful development of a vaccine, it is essential to connect contract research organizations, production facilities, global networks, and the government policies, Seong emphasized.

The project team for developing vaccine commercialization technology is collaborating with major large hospitals across the nation to enter trials efficiently, he noted.

By using the Good Manufacturing Practice-certified production facilities in Hwasun, South Jeolla Province, and in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province, established by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Korea can quickly manufacture samples for clinical trials, he added.

Korea could provide locally made vaccines through international organizations such as the International Vaccine Institute located in Seoul and other international funds, including Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Seong went on to say.

“With the government policy that encompasses all of this, we can achieve a rapid and continuous vaccine development,” he said.

The pan-government support group for Covid-19 treatment and vaccine, formed to fight the Covid-19 crisis, could also receive the government support. Still, the real question would be “how continuously the government will support,” he noted.

The support group for Covid-19 treatment and vaccine is drawing up a roadmap for Covid-19 vaccine development, according to Seong.

The roadmap includes operating a communication window to establish a cooperative relationship between industries, universities, research institutes, and hospitals and using demonstration support center as a GMP public production facility to supply vaccines in a state of emergency.

Others include support for joint investment and development of pharmaceutical companies and introducing standard substances by the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) or the World Health Organization to evaluate the efficacy of a developed vaccine.

If a Covid-19 vaccine developer finds no place to sell after hard work of the vaccine development, it would be forcing it to sacrifice itself, Seong said. “We’re planning to prompt the government to purchase the Covid-19 vaccine even if the Covid-19 virus disappears when a vaccine is developed,” he added.

The roadmap for Covid-19 vaccine development will be finalized in June. R&D will start in the second half or early next year because the relevant budget has already been reflected in the third extra budget, he said.

“At stake is how long this plan will remain sustainable. The vaccine commercialization technology development project requires a decade of work. The pan-government support group for Covid-19 treatment and vaccine will also need sustainability,” he added.


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