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(LEAD) S. Korea to shorten approval process to help develop coronavirus vaccine, treatment

All News 15:11 April 24, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS remarks, details in last 5 paras)

SEOUL, April 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Friday it will shorten an approval process later this month for clinical trials and research for experimental vaccines and treatment to combat the novel coronavirus.

Under the move, an approval process will be shortened to less than a week from the current one or two months, Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said.

If possible, an approval process will be exempted for fast-track developments of vaccines and treatment, Park said.

The move came after South Korea held its first meeting of a pan-government task force to help develop coronavirus vaccines and treatment earlier in the day.

(LEAD) S. Korea to shorten approval process to help develop coronavirus vaccine, treatment - 1

The task force will unveil comprehensive plans for coronavirus vaccines and treatment in early June, officials said.

Scientists worldwide are scrambling to find a vaccine against the highly contagious disease, which was originated in China, but many agree that making an effective vaccine is not an easy task.

South Korea reported six more cases of the new coronavirus but no new deaths Friday, bringing total infections to 10,703 and deaths to 240. Globally, more than 2.7 million people are infected and the death toll climbed past 190,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

A total of 30 research projects, including 10 projects for a coronavirus vaccine, have been under way in South Korea, with some scientists experimenting with antiviral drugs developed for other diseases.

Jeong Eun-kyeong, chief of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters that a potential coronavirus treatment may come from scientists who have applied tried-and-true medicines for other conditions to the novel coronavirus.

Clinical trials for a coronavirus treatment are expected to be completed by the end of this year, but, "We must see what will be the outcome," Jeong said.

South Korea also set guidelines for the treatment of coronavirus patients with plasma from those who have recovered from the virus.

The therapy involves infusions of blood plasma from coronavirus survivors to virus patients, though there is controversy over whether it will be successful and effective for all virus patients.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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