SEOUL, June 17 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea will test treatment and vaccine candidates against the new coronavirus on monkeys this month, the science ministry said Wednesday.
Two experimental treatments and one vaccine candidate against the novel coronavirus under development by unidentified firms or research organizations will be tested on monkeys as part of the government-supported animal testing model, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT.
The ministry has selected a number of pharmaceutical firms, research organizations and universities and supported them in developing vaccine and treatment candidates for COVID-19.
Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) advised that the testing of COVID-19 treatment and vaccine candidates must be first carried out in animal models before a human clinical trial.
Since February, the ministry has developed a suitable animal model as it is an indispensable tool to assess candidate vaccines and treatments that scientists can use as an effective proxy.
The Seoul government also said it will fully back local development of treatment drugs and vaccines for the novel coronavirus, even if foreign companies find a cure first.
Local biopharmaceutical giant Celltrion Inc. earlier announced that positive results were shown for its treatment candidate for COVID-19 in animal testing.
The company said its antiviral antibody treatment showed a hundredfold reduction in the viral load of SARS-CoV-2, the virus known to be causing COVID-19, in an animal model.
Currently, three research projects by research organizations are under way, and other local biotech firms have also joined the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.