Health & medicine

South Korea: the rise of a new medtech giant?

South Korea has gained attention for its approach to controlling the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, the South Korean government is looking to use this increased trust in Korean-made devices to boost the country’s medical device industry. Abi Millar takes a look at the current state of manufacturing in South Korea, and what increased investment could mean for the country’s medical device industry.

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, South Korea was widely praised for its response. Without resorting to a full-scale lockdown, the country was able to control the outbreak far more successfully than many countries with a similar population size.

To give a particularly stark example, as of 25 June, South Korea (population 51.6 million) had registered 282 coronavirus deaths, compared to 43,081 for England (population 56 million).

Its success has been attributed to a watertight system of contact tracing and targeted testing, among other factors. Previous disease outbreaks, such as Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2015, had sharpened its disease control system. And its domestic medical devices industry was ready to spring into action, producing testing kits and face masks without delay.

“In South Korea, around 140 domestic companies were producing over 10 million masks a day at the beginning of the outbreak,” says practice head of medical devices at GlobalData, Rohit Anand. “Meanwhile, over 20 domestic companies were producing Covid-19 test kits that could test about 135,000 people a day. Strong domestic production capability has helped the South Korean Government to control the Covid-19 pandemic quickly and effectively.”

Read the rest of this article in the August 2020 edition of Medical Technology

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