UNTIL EARLY 2020 Seegene was a medium-sized South Korean purveyor of medical diagnostics with around $110 m in yearly sales. On January 27 th that year Chun Jong-yoon, Seegene’s boss, and his equivalents at other biotechnology companies were summoned to an emergency situation meeting by the government. Seegene’s test package was provided the go-ahead by regulators.
Seegene’s employees worked around the clock, snatching a couple of hours of sleep in hotels near the workplace. Dozens more were hired overnight. Within weeks the company was exporting millions of test packages to lots of nations around the globe. It ended the year with $1bn in sales and $440 m in net profit. Other South Korean biotech companies have had a likewise good pandemic. Five of the 10 most important companies in the KOSDAQ index of medium-sized companies now originate from the biotech sector, up from 2 at the end of2019 So do two out of the 10 biggest companies in the benchmark KOSPI index.
In addition to tests, they have been producing treatments and vaccines for covid- …
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