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SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s private sector plans to invest 6.3 trillion won ($5.4 billion) in vaccine production and distribution by 2024, as the country seeks to become a global vaccine powerhouse, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said on Tuesday.

South Korea already has deals to produce three coronavirus vaccines developed by AstraZeneca/Oxford University, Novavax, and Russia. It also has a vaccine bottling and packaging agreement with Moderna.

The investment plan includes 4.24 trillion won spending by Samsung BioLogics and 1.5 trillion won by drugmaker Celltrion, the government data showed.

Kim said the government had selected 14 companies in the vaccine supply chain eligible for 18 billion won of state financial support, as the government develops the industry to become a major pillar.

The selected companies include Hanmi Pharmaceuticals, ST Pharm and Cellid.

The move comes after President Moon Jae-in in May unveiled his plan for a global vaccine production hub after agreeing with U.S. President Joe Biden on a partnership that would combine U.S. expertise and South Korean production capacity.

In August, Moon said he would designate COVID-19 vaccines as one of three national strategic technologies, nexium mail in rebates along with semiconductors and batteries, aiming to ramp up investment, give tax breaks and offer other incentives to help firms localise materials, parts and equipment.

($1 = 1,174.6700 won)

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