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Six months into COVID-19 pandemic, how close are we to vaccine development? Updated: 2020-07-23 10:00:53 KST

Korea's healthcare officials SECURED much global attention for their INITIAL CONTAINMENT of COVID-19 and now the country's medical researchers are SEEKING to make STRIDES in the RACE for a VACCINE or CURE.
I have our Kim Mok-yeon here in the studio with me.
Welcome Mok-yeon.

Good afternoon Sunhee.

Mok-yeon let's begin by BRIEFLY touching upon some of the TANGIBLE efforts on the part of the government in RESPONSE to COVID-19 over the past six months.


Sure Sunhee, one of the biggest decisions the country had to make was to implement three supplementary budgets this year, marking the first time it has done so since 1972.
The money is being used in various areas to prevent and mitigate the damage from the COVID-19 pandemic.
If we get into details, the government adopted a face mask rationing system, in order to cope with the soaring mask prices and prevent hoarding.
Under the system, which ended this month, people were permitted to buy a limited number of masks on a designated day of the week at reasonable prices.
Another key measure was to issue a strict ban on public gatherings, and limiting the operation of karaokes, bars and religious facilities.
As part of efforts to speed up testing, local governments also implemented the drive-thru testing system, that allows citizens to get tested for COVID-19 inside their cars.
The system was applauded since there's a much lower chance of infection compared to people waiting in long lines at designated clinics.

Now some say the second wave is here others say it's not.
What do Korea's health authorities say?

Well, according to KCDC Director Jung Eun-kyeong,.. distinguishing the first and second wave of the virus is not significant anymore.
She said that's because new COVID-19 cases continue to occur globally and have been rising and falling continuously.
But to give it a definition, she said in order to call it a second big wave , the number of infections must be at a level where the country's healthcare system can't handle the patient load.
She said the government is preparing for the possibility that the pandemic could worsen in the autumn season.

Right let's move on to local efforts to find a treatment then.
How far have we come and when can we expect to see some results?

The CDC says it aims to create a plasma-derived treatment by the end of the year and an antibody treatment by next year.
It's also aiming to begin mass production of a vaccine by late 2021.
Recently, some 230 people who recovered from COVID-19 have pledged to donate their blood plasma for research purposes.
Meanwhile, serology tests have been carried out on blood samples of 3,000 people, and the government seeks to conduct such tests every two months.
Currently, regular meetings are taking place to meet the timeline, and various institutions such as the Korea National Institute of Health and Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology are carrying out non-clinical testing.
They plan to proceed with clinical trials in the coming months.

I understand President Moon Jae-in has SHARED a few words about these efforts?

President Moon stressed that developing a vaccine and treatment is one of the top priorities of the human race at this time, calling for the nation to exert more effort and help the international community.
Let's take a listen.

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"At the moment, mankind's biggest task is to completely overcome COVID-19 by developing a vaccine and a cure. South Korea can take the lead in this development and contribute to the international community."

President Moon also stressed that once the vaccine is developed, all countries must have equal access to the vaccine.
In a joint op-ed with leaders from seven other countries such as Canada and New Zealand,.. President Moon urged countries to cooperate on manufacturing and distributing a vaccine to ensure less-developed countries are not left behind.
The leaders called for joint efforts to develop a set of transparent, fair and scientifically-sound principles to guide global distribution.

Staying on the subject of vaccines the WHO says there are at least 23 potential vaccines undergoing human trials.
Mok-yeon tell us more.

We are hearing some good news from researchers in China, the UK and the United States.
One vaccine, jointly manufactured by researchers from the University of Oxford in the UK and British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, created antibodies in all 1-thousand subject who took part in the trials.
The vaccine also produced killer T-cells that help patients combat the virus by attacking infected cells.
China's CanSino Biologics is working on a vaccine which showed promising results in a mid-stage clinical study, as it was shown to be safe and induced an immune response.
A joint venture between drug giant Pfizer and German company BioNTech also created a vaccine that immunized some 60 participants.
Pfizer and BioNTech now plan to begin testing on some 30-thousand volunteers this month to prove the efficacy of their vaccine.

Alright Mok-yeon thank you for the UPDATE on EFFORTS to END the pandemic.

My pleasure.
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