Under the reconciliatory atmosphere between South Korea and North Korea, a South Korean analyst raised a possibility that South Korea could provide vaccines for the North.
Park Jong-dae, an analyst at Hana Investment & Securities, released a report on how South Korean companies could benefit from supplying vaccines to the North by analyzing the North Korean consumer market.
According to Park’s report, the mortality rate of cardiovascular diseases is 33 percent, the highest among causes of death, in the North. That of infectious diseases is second highest at 25 percent. In the South, the mortality rate of infectious diseases is around 5 percent.
The mortality rate among North Korean infants and young children is significantly higher than that of South Koreans.
According to a 2014 report on vaccination published by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), about 8,000 infants died before the first birthday in North Korea in 2013. The figure was eight times higher than the South’s 1,000.
The infant mortality rate in North Korea was 22 per 1,000, and the mortality rate of those under 5 was 27 per 1,000.
The high infant death rate in the North is attributed to its low vaccination rate.
The supply of vaccines and vaccinations are essential to reduce the North’s infant mortality and deaths from infectious diseases.
Against this backdrop, Park said it is more likely now that the South could give the North vaccines.
He picked GC and SK Chemicals as the South Korean drugmakers to make more profits out of the opportunity to supply vaccines to the North.
GC operates a vaccine factory in Hwasun, South Jeolla Province, which can produce up to 50 million doses with the egg-based manufacturing process. The factory mainly manufactures flu shots, Japanese encephalitis vaccines, and chicken pox vaccines.
SK Chemicals runs a plant in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province, which can manufacture up to 140 million doses with the cell culture method. It mainly produces trivalent and quadrivalent flu vaccines. The plant recently began manufacturing shingles vaccine, too.
Park said GC and SK Chemicals could enjoy significant profits if their vaccine supply to the North becomes reality.
In the South, a BCG shot is 16,950 won ($15.7). Three times shots of Hepatitis B cost 2,230 won, three times of diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTaP) are 4,510 won, and three times of pneumococcal vaccines (PCV) are 59,940 won. If all these vaccines are given to the North Korean infants and young children, it will create worth 120 billion won market, Park said.
“When the inter-Korean exchanges are widened, the two Koreas should establish similar immune systems for communicable diseases to prevent epidemics in certain regions,” Park said. “To do so, the two sides need similar vaccinations for infants and young children. This is where South Korean vaccine manufacturers should pay attention to.”