SEOUL - South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday he plans to invest 2.2 trillion won ($1.92 billion) to turn the country into one of the world's five largest COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing bases by 2025, his office said.
The remarks were made at a meeting of a public-private committee newly launched to explore ways to boost vaccine production amid global supply shortages and shipment delays.
Moon said he will designate COVID-19 vaccines as one of the three national strategic technologies, along with semiconductors and batteries, to ramp up investment, tax breaks and other incentives.
"We will strive to take a leap forward to become one of the top five global vaccine producers by 2025," Moon told the meeting, pledging 2.2 trillion won ($1.92 billion) over the next five years.
The panel includes medical and vaccine experts, venture capitalists and drugmakers including SK Bioscience, Samsung Biologics, ST Pharm and Ecell.
Moon has made the vaccine production drive a key priority for the remainder of his term, due to end in March, facing pressure at home over the fourth COVID-19 wave and a slowed immunisation campaign.
($1 = 1,144.4200 won)
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Raju Gopalakrishnan) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; 822 3704 5658;))