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CEO of dairy company SKorea resigns over viral research scandal

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – The chairman of one of South Korea’s largest dairy companies has resigned following a scandal in which his company was accused of deliberately spreading false information that his yogurt is helping to prevent coronavirus infections.

While leaving the head of the company, Hong Won-sik and other members of his family will retain their dominant stake in Namyang Dairy Products.

Namyang funded research he actively promoted through the media and a symposium he funded last month that claimed his Bulgaris yogurt drinks were effective in reducing the risk of coronavirus infections.

Namyang’s share price rose temporarily before the Food and Drug Safety Ministry sued the company for false advertising, saying the research was questionable and did not involve any animal testing or clinical trials.

Police searched Namyang’s headquarters in Seoul last week. Namyang CEO Lee Kwang-bum also offered to step down following a public outcry.

“I express my sincere apologies for causing the disappointment and anger of the people of our country over the Bulgarian controversy at a time when the nation is going through a difficult time because of COVID-19,” said Hong, heartbreakingly. . He said he would take “all the responsibilities” by stepping down as president and vowed not to pass on management rights to his children, which is a much criticized practice in South Korean family businesses.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

– Sri Lanka received its first batch of Russian Sputnik V vaccine following a delay in obtaining COVID-19 vaccines from India. The 15,000 doses were transported on Tuesday. Sri Lanka has ordered 13 million doses of Sputnik and Channa Jayasuma, the minister of state for drug regulation, said he hopes Sri Lanka receives the full order in the future. Sri Lanka is running out of 600,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. It gave the first injection to 925,242 people, but the Ministry of Health only has around 350,000 doses, leaving people running out of the required second dose after a delay in getting vaccines ordered in India. . Meanwhile, coronavirus infections have spread rapidly. Sri Lanka has banned public gatherings and parties, schools are closed, and supermarkets and shopping complexes are limited to 25% of their customer capacity. It has counted 111,753 cases with 696 deaths.

– North Korea is warning its people to prepare for a prolonged fight against the coronavirus, saying widening epidemics and confused vaccination schedules in other countries show vaccines are not the ultimate solution. The column published by the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper of Pyongyang came amid questions about when and how the vaccines would arrive in North Korea. The UN-backed program to ship COVID-19 vaccines around the world said in February that North Korea could receive 1.9 million doses of the vaccine in the first half of this year. However, COVAX has since warned of global shortages due to the outbreak in India soaring. The North has claimed a perfect record to prevent COVID-19, but outside experts have questioned that claim. The state newspaper took an apparent bullet on India’s anti-virus campaign without naming the country. He said that a certain nation which had “exported the vaccines it produced while publicly insisting that it considered the evil virus to be defeated,” was now experiencing an explosive surge. “Cases from other countries provide further evidence that vaccines are not a complete solution,” the newspaper writes.

– The World Health Organization is expected to decide this week to approve two Chinese vaccines for emergency use against COVID-19. Mariangela Simao, WHO deputy director-general for access to medicines, vaccines and pharmaceuticals, said on Monday that some “final arrangements” remain to be made before the crucial word from a technical advisory group of the WHO does come on the Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines. The expected move would trigger wider use of both vaccines in other countries.

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