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Lee Hee-Young, president of the Korean Association of Stemcell Therapy, claims that stem cell therapy is more advantageous in treating COVID-19 patients. 

He said that research has shown the effects of autologous stem cells in treating acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is the top cause of death in COVID-19 patients. He added that stem cell therapy is similar in concept to that of blood and bone marrow transfusions and further added that the decades spent on cell therapies prove that stem cell therapy is harmless.

Although developing a vaccine against COVID-19 is a lengthy process because of possible virus mutations that can affect the process, Lee claims that it is of utmost importance that damaged lungs should be restored rather than fighting the virus so that patients have enough time to overcome the virus. He adds that he called for a conference because of the focus on vaccine or treatment candidates. 

Lee also points out the local government in South Korea should ease regulations on the control and usage of cell culture facilities so that doctors can perform stem cell therapy on COVID-19 patients. 

He says that if physicians are provided with a positive pressure facility and a cell culture kit and training, they would be able to separate and culture cells and thus decrease the costs of stem cell therapies. Lee also says that this is only possible if authorities would allow doctors to perform such therapies. 

Finally, he asks related authorities to add such rules to the Act on Safety and Support for Advanced Regenerative Medicine and Advanced Biopharmaceuticals in South Korea.

(Source: Korea Biomedical Review, 2020)