SEOUL, April 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea seeks to carry out clinical tests on antibody-based treatment for the novel coronavirus within the year, with the aim of releasing a drug in 2021, a senior official said Tuesday.
The country is mapping out a governmentwide support system to find a treatment method and vaccine to combat COVID-19.
"Coming up with a drug and vaccine is the only way to deal with the pandemic," said Yoon Tae-ho, a government official in charge of the quarantine.
The large amount of blood samples collected from people infected with the virus in the country will help actual clinical tests on antibody drugs take place before the end of 2020.
Also a process of using blood plasma taken from recovered COVID-19 patients may be developed in the next two to three months, as joint work is under way with local biotech companies, according to the official.
If meaningful progress is made, actual drugs could come out next year, with a vaccine, to inoculate people from infections, to be made available in late 2021 or 2022, he said.
The country has streamlined rules to better secure blood samples from patients and has eased unnecessary restrictions that can hold back various testing.
The country has so far reported over 10,500 virus cases since its first outbreak in late January.
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