SKorea dairy company CEO resigns over virus research scandal –

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Hong Won-sik, chairman of Namyang Dairy Products, wipes away tears during a news conference at the company’s headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 4, 2021. Hong resigned following a scandal in which his company has been accused of deliberately spreading misinformation that his yogurt helps prevent coronavirus infections. (Hwang Gang-mo/Yonhap via AP)

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The president of one of South Korea’s largest dairy companies has resigned following a scandal in which his company was accused of deliberately spreading misinformation that its yogurt helps to prevent coronavirus infections.

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

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

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

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

“I express my sincere apologies for causing disappointment and anger to the people of our country with the Bulgaris-related controversy at a time when the nation is going through a difficult time due to COVID-19,” Hong said in a statement. crying. He said he would take “full responsibility” by stepping down as chairman and promised not to pass management rights to his children, a practice much criticized in South Korean family businesses.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

– Sri Lanka received its first batch of Russian Sputnik V vaccine after a delay in getting COVID-19 vaccines from India. The 15,000 doses were airlifted on Tuesday. Sri Lanka has ordered 13 million doses of Sputnik and Channa Jayasuma, the state minister for medicines regulation, said he hoped Sri Lanka would receive the entire order in the future. Sri Lanka is short of 600,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. It administered the first vaccine to 925,242 people, but the health ministry only has about 350,000 doses left, leaving people short of the required second dose after a delay in getting vaccines ordered from 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 counted 111,753 cases with 696 deaths.

– North Korea is warning its people to prepare for a prolonged fight against the coronavirus, saying widening outbreaks and confusing vaccination programs in other countries show that vaccines are not the ultimate solution. The column published by Pyongyang’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper came amid questions about when and how the vaccines would arrive in North Korea. The UN-backed program to ship COVID-19 vaccines worldwide 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. The North has claimed a perfect record for preventing COVID-19, but outside experts have doubted that claim. The state-run newspaper apparently fired on India’s anti-virus campaign without naming the country. He said a certain nation that had “exported vaccines it produced while publicly insisting that it considered the evil virus defeated” was now experiencing an explosive surge. “Cases from other countries provide further evidence that vaccines are not a complete solution,” the paper wrote.

– South Korean officials say North Korea has told Asian football’s governing body that it will not take part in the World Cup qualifiers scheduled for South Korea next month due to coronavirus concerns . Kim Min-soo, an official with the South Korean Football Association, said on Tuesday that the Asian Football Confederation had asked the North Korean association to reconsider its decision. He said North Korea informed the AFC of their intention to abandon the matches on Friday. The North Korean Olympic Committee also said last month that it had decided to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics to protect its athletes from the coronavirus. An official with South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which deals with inter-Korean affairs, said Seoul still hopes North Korea will participate in soccer matches in South Korea, saying they will provide a rare opportunity to sporting exchanges during a sudden cooling of bilateral relations. . North Korea has ended virtually all cooperation with South Korea and resumed testing of short-range weapons amid a stalemate in broader nuclear talks between the North and the United States. Both Koreas belong to Group H of the second round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup. After a month of delay due to the pandemic, the remaining group matches will be played in South Korea in June.

– The World Health Organization is to decide this week whether to approve two Chinese vaccines for emergency use against COVID-19. Mariangela Simao, the WHO’s 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 from the WHO does not arrive on the vaccines Sinopharm and Sinovac. The expected move would trigger wider use of the two vaccines in other countries.

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