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S. Korean consortium to produce Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for export

Corporate logo of Huons Global (Yonhap)
Corporate logo of Huons Global (Yonhap)
South Korean biotech company Huons Global said Friday that it has signed a technology transfer deal with Russia's sovereign wealth fund to produce a Russian COVID-19 vaccine in South Korea.

Under the agreement with the Russian Direct Investment Fund, the Huons Global-led consortium will manufacture Sputnik V in South Korea.

Three other participants in the consortium are two South Korean companies -- Humedix and Boran Pharma -- and Singapore's Prestige BioPharma.

Huons Global said it is set to begin pilot production of the Russian vaccine in August at the consortium's facilities with a monthly maximum production capacity of 100 million doses, an amount that could nearly cover South Korea's 52 million population.

It remains unclear if and when South Koreans can receive the Russian jabs, as all vaccines to be produced in South Korea are intended for export to unspecified countries, according to an official of Huons Global.

The official said on condition of anonymity that no decision has been made as to when the Sputnik V to be produced in South Korea can be available in the country.

The move came amid a shortage of Western vaccines in South Korea.

South Korea aims to achieve herd immunity by November and seeks to complete the vaccination of 12 million people by the end of June.

An official of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said last week that South Korea is open to "various options" to deal with a potential vaccine shortage, including an export ban on COVID-19 vaccines produced in the country.

A separate local consortium, led by local bio firm GL Rapha, signed a separate deal with the Russian sovereign wealth fund to manufacture Sputnik V in South Korea.

The Russian sovereign wealth fund described Sputnik V as "the world's first registered vaccine" based on "human adenoviral vector-based platform."

The first interim analysis of the Sputnik V vaccine of phase three clinical trials in Russia has demonstrated 92 percent efficacy against the new coronavirus based on 20 confirmed cases, according to the Moscow-based fund.

The Sputnik V vaccine was developed at the National Research Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, and its clinical trials have been announced in the United Arab Emirates, India, Venezuela and Belarus, the fund said. (Yonhap)