South Korea in talks to produce one billion mRNA vaccine doses

pharmafile | July 5, 2021 | News story | Sales and Marketing  

South Korea is in talks with mRNA vaccine makers, including Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna, to produce up to one billion COVID-19 shots.

A senior government official said the country is ready to produce the doses immediately.

If approved, this would ease pressure on the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

South Korea already has deals to locally produce three coronavirus vaccines developed by AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Russia. It also has a vaccine bottling and packaging deal with Moderna.

As reported by Reuters, Lee Kang-ho, Director General for the Global Vaccine Hub Committee under South Korea’s health ministry, said: “We’ve been holding frequent talks with big pharmaceutical companies to produce mRNA vaccines.

“There are only a few mRNA vaccine developers − Pfizer, Moderna, CureVac, and BioNTech. Thus there’s a limit to how much they can produce to meet global demand… South Korea is keen to help by offering its facilities and skilled human resources.”

It’s unclear how advanced these talks are and whether and when a deal will be agreed.

A Pfizer spokesperson said the company is making efforts to enhance its COVID-19 vaccine supply chain, but said: “We do not have anything specific to announce at this time”.

Lee Kang-ho declined to name local vaccine makers which have the capacity to produce mRNA vaccines immediately, but a government source said they include Hanmi Pharmaceuticals Co Ltd and Quratis Co Ltd.

Hanmi confirmed that it has a big capacity reserved for Sanofi’s diabetes drug and it can be used for COVID-19 vaccine production as the Sanofi project has stalled.

Kim Soo-jin, Senior Vice-President of Hanmi, said. “We happen to have this facility available right now because our clinical trial [with Sanofi] was discontinued in the middle of last year.

“It’s very timely that we have a fully ready, GMP, state-of-the-art facility available.”

Lilly Subbotin

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