As the world records 16 million Coronavirus cases with more than 644,000 fatalities, the race to find a vaccine has become intense. Now, a South Korean pharmaceutical company, SK Bioscience, backed by the American billionaire Bill Gates, is showing some hope in the race to find a solution against COVID-19.
SK Bioscience is pursuing COVID-19 vaccines research under a state-run project and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded it with $3.6 million to produce an optimal antigen for COVID-19. It has also signed a contract with AstraZeneca to manufacture the latter's COVID-19, known popularly as Oxford vaccine in Korea upon successful completion of trials.
SK Bioscience has earlier successfully developed cell-cultured flu vaccine, cervical cancer vaccine and pediatric enteritis vaccine. The Microsoft co-founder in a letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in stated that the South Korean company is capable of producing 200 million COVID-19 vaccine kits by June 2021, while seeking cooperation from the Blue House, said the presidential office in Seoul.
Bill Gates and Coronavirus Vaccine
Earlier Gates said investment in factories across the globe can ensure that regions beyond the U.S. won't be left behind in the rush for Coronavirus vaccines, though he found himself in the midst of several controversies related to vaccines.
Some of these conspiracy theories which have been spreading online accused Gates of creating the Coronavirus outbreak in the first place. These fake images and fabricated news articles crafted by conspiracy theorists targeting Gates, have gained traction on several social media platforms since the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak.
There was a video on YouTube which claimed that Gates "wants to eliminate 15 percent of the world population through vaccination and electronic microchips" and it has racked up millions of views though debunked by global fact checkers.
Recently during an interview Gates said, "It's a bad combination of pandemic and social media and people looking for a very simple explanation." He also mentioned that the Gates Foundation has given more money to buy vaccines to save lives than any other organization. Gates also pledged $250 million in efforts to fight the Coronavirus pandemic.
As per the reports, the Gates Foundation has spent billions of dollars improving healthcare system in developing countries over the last 20 years. Gates said, "So you just turn that around. You say, ok, we're managing money and we're trying to kill people with vaccines or by investing something."
South Korea's own vaccine?
Earlier it was reported that South Korea-based company Genexine Inc. has begun enrolling a phase I/II trial for a DNA vaccine targeting novel Coronavirus. This vaccine is called GX-19.
The CEO of the company Young Chul Sung said that GX-19 is the first domestic vaccine trial to be approved by the country's Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. It is expected that the preliminary data from the initial trial will be released in September and hopefully complete all stages by the end of 2021.
As per the reports, the phase I trial will include 40 volunteers at Gangnam Severance Hospital, while a subsequent phase II study, would be conducted in the second half of the year that will include participants from countries like Indonesia and Thailand.