SEOUL, April 12 (Reuters) - Five South Korean companies have launched clinical trials for their coronavirus vaccines, aiming to enter the third phase of trials in the second half of this year, the health ministry said on Monday (Apr 12).

The five are SK Bioscience, EuBiologics, Cellid, Genexine and GeneOne Life Science.

The government plans to provide 68.7 billion won (US$61.1 million) to support the companies' vaccine development, the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry also said that SK Bioscience will be able to begin manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines developed by Novavax Inc as early as June, which it said would ease any potential supply shortages in the face of global production delays.

The US drugmaker signed a licence agreement with SK Bioscience to produce 40 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine for South Korea.