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SK Bioscience to manufacture Novavax vaccine for 20 mil population

Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong (left) and SK Bioscience CEO Ahn Jae-yong sign a deal to supply Novavax vaccines to the Korean population on Feb. 16. (SK Bioscience)
Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong (left) and SK Bioscience CEO Ahn Jae-yong sign a deal to supply Novavax vaccines to the Korean population on Feb. 16. (SK Bioscience)
South Korean vaccine-maker SK Bioscience will manufacture 40 million doses of US’ Novavax vaccines, enough to inoculate 20 million people.

Under the agreement signed by SK Bioscience, Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency and Novavax on Tuesday, Novavax will license out its NVX-CoV2373 vaccine technology to SK Bioscience for contract manufacturing purposes.

As per this deal, South Korea will have the means to stably secure COVID-19 vaccines domestically, without having to rely on imports of finished vaccine products from overseas, SK Bioscience said.

SK Bioscience, who had been contracted to produce the drug substance for NVX-CoV2372 since last August, can now start manufacturing the batch intended for Korea, and expects to have them ready by the second quarter, the firm said via press release.

Novavax’s is a recombinant protein vaccine that can be stored in refrigerated temperatures between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius. It has a long shelf life of up to three years, which means that this year’s products can be kept for next year, too.

In a clinical phase 3 trial conducted in the UK targeting some 15,000 adults aged between 18 and 84, NVX-CoV2373 showed an average prevention rate of 89.3 percent.

Against the original SARS-CoV-2 virus that has not mutated, the Novavax vaccine had a 95.6 percent efficacy, which is a higher rate than the touted mRNA vaccines.

Against the UK variant and the South African variant, the Novavax vaccine showed an 85.6 percent and 60 percent efficacy, respectively.

SK Bioscience will have the exclusive rights to manufacture, seek approval and distribute the Novavax vaccine in Korea.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)
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