SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean drug safety watchdog said Friday it has approved five clinical trials of existing drugs that could be used to treat COVID-19 patients as part of efforts to combat the disease ravaging the world.
Three of the clinical trials involve the Ebola drug Remdesivir and will be carried out by Seoul National University Hospital and National Medical Center, according to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.
Asan Medical Center in Seoul and Gangnam Severance Hospital will conduct the remaining two tests using the AIDS treatment Kaletra and the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.
The ministry said it greenlighted the five clinical trials after fast-tracking 11 applications.
The ministry also said it has given the go-ahead to six applications for the use of a local flu drug being tested for the treatment of patients infected with the novel coronavirus.
South Korean midsized bio firm ImmuneMed has developed the drug HzVSFv13, an injection type of Virus Suppressing Factor (VSF).
The ministry further said it is reviewing 10 other applications for the use of existing drugs to treat COVID-19.
The ministry added it is cooperating with the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the science ministry to help develop treatments for the coronavirus.
As of Friday, South Korea had more than 9,300 COVID-19 patients, with the death toll reaching 139.