KCDC chief Jung named as head of new state disease control tower

2020.09.09 09:23:36 | 2020.09.09 09:24:19

[Photo by Yonhap]이미지 확대

[Photo by Yonhap]

Jung Eun-kyeong, the director of South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (KCDC) who is praised for her leadership in managing the country’s response to COVID-19, will head a new disease control tower that will be launched later this week for the country’s better readiness against infectious diseases.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday named Jung as the first head of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), a higher-level state agency on disease response that will be spun off from the Ministry of Health and Welfare on Sept. 12.

In May, President Moon pledged to elevate KCDC to vice-ministerial rank to ensure the country’s long-term readiness against infectious diseases, and KDCA is the newly promoted state disease control tower with more authority in responding to heath threats and leading research on disease prevention and vaccine development. Following the promotion, the number of staff at the new state agency will be bumped up from 906 to 1,476.

Jung will be also given more authority with her new title even though KDCA chief is a vice-ministerial post that is the same level as KCDC director.

Jung, a graduate of Seoul National University medical school, has held key positions at KCDC as head of disease prevention center and emergency situation center. She has been on the front line in Korea’s combat against the coronavirus outbreak and has been playing a critical role in setting Korea as an exemplary country in containing virus spread.

Jung became director of KCDC under the Moon administration in 2017 after she was recognized her successful role in managing the country’s response to the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2015 as head of the disease prevention center.

Meanwhile, Korea also has made progress in COVID-19 treatment development. The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters announced on Tuesday that the quarantine authority is expected to mass produce antibody treatment on COVID-19 this month.

Kwon Jun-wook, deputy head of Central Disaster for Safety Countermeasures Headquarters, said in a briefing that the antibody COVID-19 treatment is currently under review by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety for second and third clinical trials. It plans to mass produce commercial antibody treatments in September.

The antibody treatment is a drug that uses antibody to incapacitate coronavirus.

By Lim Sung-hyun and Kim Yeon-joo and Lee Eun-joo

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