SEOUL, July 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will spend 197 billion won (US$162 million) on supporting vaccine and treatment drug development for COVID-19, the health ministry said Thursday.
Of the total, 57.6 percent, or 111.5 billion won, will be used to find vaccines and treatment drugs.
Local biopharmaceutical firms, such as Celltrion Inc. and Korea Green Cross Corp., are developing antibody and blood plasma drugs, respectively, with actual clinical trials on humans to begin before late August.
Celltion, in particular, is working with a British partner to conduct global tests.
The ministry said 39.1 billion won will be used to expand research and production facilities in the country that are critical to responding to the current and future outbreaks, with 10 billion won to be given directly to private companies so they can buy equipment needed to mass produce drugs.
As of Thursday, South Korea confirmed 13,293 cases of COVID-19 and 287 deaths, with more than 1.37 million people tested so far.
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