Korean firms launch COVID-19 vaccine trials, ship test kits

 Korean firms launch COVID-19 vaccine trials, ship test kits

A mounting number of South Korean pharmaceutical companies are joining the global effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine and to supply other countries with testing kits.

SillaJen announced Sunday the start of animal trials for potential COVID-19 vaccines in Canada late last week. It is one of the largest bio startups in Korea in terms of market capitalization.

The firm developed two candidate vaccines to begin the animal tests, which it expects to take around six weeks.

Through animal experiments, scientists typically check whether the vaccine candidates work and whether they would be safe for human testing.

"On top of the two, we will keep trying to find other vaccine candidates to launch tests," SillaJen said in a statement. "To bring the new coronavirus under control, we think vaccines are more important than treatments."

The country's makers of diagnostic kits are also trying to export their products en masse to regions suffering from the pandemic.

Three firms got emergency use authorization from the U.S.Food and Drug Administration for their test kits -- Seegene, Osang Healthcare and SD Biosensor.

"In addition to the U.S., we got an emergency authorization from other nations. Expecting a surge in exports, we have expanded our capacity," an Osang Healthcare official said.

Three other Korean companies also asked the U.S. authority to give a nod to their test kits.

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