South Korea announced in August that it would set aside around 1.9 billion U.S. dollars of its 2022 budget to become a global vaccine hub.
"This budget will be used for South Korea to create its own COVID-19 vaccine by early next year and become the world's fifth largest vaccine producer by 2025."
There are eight local companies developing their own COVID-19 vaccines.
SK bioscience is the only company, so far, to have one of its vaccine candidates enter phase three, which is seen as the most difficult and costly stage.
The SK bioscience candidate, GBP510 is being tested on 4-thousand participants around the world.
And it has been shown to be effective against COVID-19 variants.
"Research has confirmed that our GBP510 vaccine candidate is effective against mutated strains of COVID-19."
The vaccine candidate by Genexine, which is aimed at reducing breakthrough infections, is undergoing second and early third phase trials in Indonesia.
The company made a strategic decision to develop booster shots rather than primary COVID-19 vaccines.
"We believe that the demand for booster shots will grow in an era when we're living with COVID-19.
So, though we can't say we are ahead of global vaccine makers, we are one of the first to test our own booster shots."
Their decision comes amid health experts raising concerns on South Korea's relatively slow vaccine development.
Experts cited how pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer and Moderna have already distributed their COVID-19 vaccines globally.
But South Korean authorities explained their efforts have been in line with the country's strategy to becoming a global vaccine hub that prioritizes efficacy and safety.
"Based on our clinical trial results, our homegrown vaccine candidates have been evaluated to be very effective and safe, even compared to the ones already being used."
South Korea aims to develop its vaccine production capacity so that it can distribute homegrown vaccines to neighboring countries that are also suffering from the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.
Shin Ye-eun, Arirang News.