World turns to South Korea for virus testing kits

South Korea exporting essential equipment to more than 100 countries, sold kits worth over $130M in just 20 days


South Korea has emerged as the top exporter of coronavirus testing kits during the COVID-19 pandemic, with at least 106 countries procuring the essential medical equipment from Seoul.

Following an exponential boost in demand, South Korea’s exports of coronavirus testing kits in the first 20 days of April stood at $131.9 million, Yonhap News Agency reported on Wednesday.

According to data released by Korea Customs Service, exports of test kits during the same period last year amounted to $7.25 million.

The data shows Brazil, the country with most COVID-19 cases in South America, has been the top importer, procuring kits worth $19.2 million.

It is followed by two of the world’s hardest-hit countries – the U.S. with $15.5 million worth of imports and Italy with $14.8 million.

International approval

A coronavirus test kit produced by a major South Korean manufacturer has been granted emergency approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Seegene Inc. announced on Wednesday that the FDA granted “Emergency Use Authorization” for its Allplex test kit, which is a “real-time RT-PCR test for SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 disease.”

In a statement, the company said Allplex was being used as “a standard SARS-CoV-2 test” and it had “already sold over 10 million tests globally in over 60 countries.”

Ramping up research

South Korea announced on Wednesday it will invest over $500 million dollars to support efforts for vaccine development, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The money will be invested over the next 10 years to develop vaccines against highly contagious diseases.

It will also be used for infrastructure development, including the establishment of state-run research centers.

The move is aimed at increasing South Korea’s readiness against any future pandemic, the report said.

It said South Korea seeks to be self-sufficient in essential pharmaceutical products by 2029, particularly those required for contagious diseases such as COVID-19.

As per government figures, South Korea has recorded 10,694 cases so far, with nearly 238 deaths and 8,277 recoveries.


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