Celltrion chairman Seo Jung-jin
Celltrion will be able to mass-produce COVID-19 cure to cover up to 5 million patients in the first half of next year under the timetable of completing human clinical trials within this year and receiving regulatory marketing approval in the first quarter of next year, said its chairman Seo Jung-jin during a keynote speech at Next Rise 2020, a startup exhibition held in Seoul on Tuesday.
Celltrion, one of Korean players in the race on coming up with a treatment to stop the pandemic, completed a hamster study on Wednesday and initiated research using a monkey model to find a base for a human clinical trial slated to begin on July 16.
Of the 5 million treatments, 1 million will be used in Korea and the remaining 4 million will be distributed to other countries in urgent need of the drug, Seo said. He also said the pandemic could be defeated by the end of next year as many as 200 companies around the world are developing COVID-19 cures and vaccines.
But he still warned that about 20 percent of the coronaviruses have mutated in a way that makes them three to four times more easily infect human cells, calling for personal hygiene and social distancing practices until those treatments and vaccines become available.
Celltrion started the screening of potential COVID-19 antibody therapeutics in February, discovered antibody candidates that can neutralize the virus in convalescent serum samples, and selected a final candidate antibody group for the development of a COVID-19 cure in April.
By Kim Si-gyun and Minu Kim
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