South Korea will be able to develop its own Covid-19 vaccine late next year, in addition to foreign products to be shipped here in the near future, the country's Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said on Thursday.
He was speaking in public at the outset of an interagency meeting on the virus response, Yonhap news agency reported.
"(The government) will be able to introduce a COVID-19 vaccine, which we are developing independently, to the people around the end of next year," he said during the session held at the government office complex in Seoul.
He also pointed out that foreign-made vaccines are scheduled to be administered in South Korea starting as early as in February.
"A review on a treatment, developed by our company, for permission started a few days ago as well," he added, apparently referring to Celltrion Inc.'s antibody treatment waiting for approval by the South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.
Chung expressed optimism that South Korea will win the fight against the coronavirus faster than any other nation if it secures such a treatment and vaccines on the basis of its robust virus control and prevention system.
He stressed that the government is "managing the situation" without such measures as lockdowns or travel restrictions.
The country achieved early success in its antivirus campaign with aggressive efforts to "test, trace and treat" infections.
But it is now gripped by another wave of large-scale transmissions, which Chung described as "the most critical moment in the final phase" of the coronavirus crisis.
The country's new virus infections fell below 1,000 on Thursday for the first time in three days but the level of new cases remains still high due mainly to cluster infections from churches, private gatherings and other facilities.
The country added 967 more COVID-19 cases, including 940 locally transmitted infections, bringing the total caseload to 60,740, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).