South Korea aims to become the world's fifth largest vaccine producer by the year 2025.
President Moon Jae-in affirmed the goal on Thursday while chairing an inaugural meeting of the preparatory committee that will lead the country's efforts to become a global COVID-19 vaccine production hub.
"Over the next five years, we plan to invest 2.2 trillion won (US$ 1.9 billion) by designating vaccines as one of the three national strategic technology areas along with semiconductors and batteries. We will vastly expand tax benefits for research and development and facility investment, while boosting the production capacity of local companies through self-reliance regarding the production and technology of necessary parts, materials and equipment."
To that end, the government plans to train more than 2-hundred medical scientists, 10-thousand experts in clinical trials and 2-thousand specialists in bio-production every year.
The president also vowed to ensure the success of the vaccine partnership with the U.S., agreed to with President Joe Biden in May, and to expand partnerships with other countries, such as Germany and the UK.
President Moon also highlighted the need to produce vaccines developed locally to achieve vaccine sovereignty, saying that South Korea is expected to commercialize its first homegrown vaccine by the first half of next year.
Currently, coronavirus vaccines are in development at seven local companies.
"The government will support expenses related to clinical testing to speed up the development of domestic vaccines, and also create a system for support on various fronts, such as the localization of raw materials and patent analysis. I also ask for firm determination from the preparatory committee to succeed in developing messenger RNA vaccines, to take this opportunity even if we are behind."
Stressing that vaccines are the most effective defense against COVID-19, Moon said that as a vaccine hub South Korea will be able to boost vaccine supply and thereby reduce discrepancies in distribution as well as step up its capacity in responding to new infectious diseases.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.