Seegene, a South Korean molecular diagnostics firm, was able to quickly develop and manufacture testing kits for SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, CNN reports.
Chun Jong-yoon, Seegene's CEO, tells CNN his company started focusing on SARS-CoV-2 in January after the outbreak began in China, but before any cases were confirmed in South Korea. According to Chun, the firm was able to quickly develop its test by using an artificial intelligence-based approach, even though it only had genetic data about the virus and not a viral sample.
As CNN reports, Seegene was also able to quickly garner approval from the South Korean Centers for Disease Control & Prevention — within a week, rather than the more typical year and a half. Chun also then redirected Seegene workers to the assembly line to ramp up kit production, putting other work on hold. It adds that Seegene is making about 10,000 kits a week, each of which can test about 100 people.
"We have to be providing or contributing one way or the other to figure it out as soon as possible. That's why (we supply to) the whole world," Chun tells CNN.
South Korea, which is hard hit by the virus, has tested more than 230,000 people, CNN reports.