S Korea targets homegrown Covid-19 vax early next year


Seoul, Feb 22 | South Korea could produce locally developed vaccines against the novel coronavirus early next year, the ICT minister said on Monday, as the country seeks to prepare for a drawn-out fight against the pandemic.

Minister of Science and ICT Choi Ki-young said the government will continue to support development of local vaccines against the virus even though the country has secured enough vaccines from foreign pharmaceutical companies, such as Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

The country plans to roll out its COVID-19 inoculation program with AstraZeneca’s vaccines Friday, while inoculation with Pfizer’s vaccines will start Saturday. South Korea has secured enough coronavirus vaccines to inoculate 79 million people, higher than its population of 51.6 million.

“We don’t know how long the vaccines will stay effective, and there could be many strains of the virus,” Choi said in a briefing. “We can’t simply rely on foreign vaccines.”

“If we continue to support development of local vaccines, we will be able to respond faster to new diseases or virus strains.”

Last week, the government said it would inject 131.4 billion won (US$118.4 million) this year to help local pharmaceutical companies conduct clinical trials on COVID-19 vaccines and treatment.

The minister said local pharmaceutical companies are currently developing synthetic antigen vaccines, DNA vaccines and a viral vector vaccine against the virus and that phase 3 clinical trials of a homegrown vaccine could take place at the end of this year if development goes as planned.

Choi, however, warned that there are numerous uncertainties as problems could arise in clinical trials.

He said it would be difficult to conduct phase 3 trials in South Korea as it would require a lot of COVID-19 patients and there could be cost-related challenges.

Source: IANS

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Global Strategist and Philanthropist Drummi Bhatt returns to her homeland to bring about a vernacular infotainment content revolution

Global Strategist and Philanthropist Drummi Bhatt returns to her homeland to bring about a vernacular infotainment content revolution

Drummi Bhatt has successfully donned many hats including that of a global strategy professional, mentor, and investor to early-stage startups encouraging women entrepreneurship, and a philanthropist.

Drummi currently leads Market Intelligence and Strategy team at Mitsubishi Power, USA building corporate-level strategies for global markets. Drummi is also the founder of KarmaKonnect, a Woman and Rural Empowerment Non-Profit Organisation which works for projects in remote rural, tribal, and conflict areas.

Her philanthropy work has taken her to various corners of India, including, far end corners of Leh, Ladakh, Telangana, and remote areas of Chambal. During these visits, she got mesmerized by culturally rich, vernacular, and diverse, the true “Bharat”.

During her interaction across the country, she got enchanted by the whirlwind of talent residing across Bharat, which is not restricted to a language, city, or just tier-1 cities but is found in abundance all across tier-2, tier-3 cities, and rural-tribal clusters.

With OTT platforms ruling the world in 2020, Drummi decided to bring her strategic insights and data analytics strength to this field by joining hands with seasoned entrepreneurs, Rahul Narvekar and Narendra Firodia, to launch its kind, vernacular OTT platform, Letsflix.

In 2019, Drummi, Rahul, and Narendra have successfully launched India’s first vernacular infotainment app, LetsUp, which now caters to 1.5 million users and in 7 vernacular languages, a feat achieved by none. The trio has now been passionately working towards creating and delivering vernacular content for every viewer in India with Letsflix.


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