SEOUL -- South Korea's Celltrion has started selling coronavirus screening kits in the U.S. to help bridge the country's testing gap, the company said Wednesday.
The Incheon-based drugmaker expects both its antigen and antibody testing kits to be approved for sale in the U.S. by mid-August. A U.S. subsidiary will distribute the kits.
The number of COVID-19 infections in South Korea is limited to dozens of people a day. But in the U.S., the infection rate is much worse and there is a shortage of antigen testing kits. Celltrion will capture the strong demand for diagnostic kits with its products.
The antigen test determines coronavirus infection in a shorter amount of time than a PCR test, which uses the polymerase chain reaction method to detect the virus's genetic material. The antibody test shows if someone has been infected with the coronavirus in the past.
Celltrion developed the two kits along with domestic peer BBB. Celltrion plans to expand exports to Europe and other places after winning approval in those places.
The South Korean government is supporting the export of diagnostic kits. Celltrion says it will take the lead in supplying countries in Southeast Asia, Africa and South America where medical supplies tend to run short.
Apart from the testing kits, Celltrion is busy developing a treatment for the novel coronavirus. The company has partnered with Seoul National University's medical college and other schools to analyze the blood of COVID-19 patients with the goal of developing a candidate to suppress the activity of the virus.