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Samsung BioLogics denies report on Pfizer vaccine production

This undated photo, provided by Samsung Biologics, shows one of its three plants in Songdo in Incheon. (Samsung Biologics)
This undated photo, provided by Samsung Biologics, shows one of its three plants in Songdo in Incheon. (Samsung Biologics)

Samsung BioLogics on Wednesday denied a local report which said it was preparing to begin production of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine as early as August.

The biotech arm of Samsung Group, headquartered in Songdo, Incheon, said the report from Korea Economic Daily was “not factual” in a filing to the Korea’s main stock exchange.

The report in question said Samsung BioLogics was in talks for the contract-manufacturing deal with Pfizer and its Songdo production plant is capable of producing up to 1 billion doses of the vaccine per year, citing unnamed sources.

According to Bloomberg, Pfizer’s current production strategy is centered on its two dedicated supply lines in the US and Europe, which exclusively manufacture its vaccine for global use.

“At this time, we are not in discussions for any additional manufacturing outside these established supply lines for this vaccine,” the US firm said in a statement. “Once the pandemic supply phase is over and we enter a phase of regular supplies, Pfizer will certainly evaluate all additional opportunities available.”

South Korea has a contract with Pfizer to purchase 66 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine. The country also has contracts to acquire a total of 192 million doses from other developers including Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson‘s and Novavax.

Meanwhile, one of the global vaccine makers has lodged a formal complaint over a leak of a detailed shipment schedule of the doses by the South Korean interior ministry, Seoul officials said Wednesday without disclosing the company’s name.

According to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters, which is in charge of the country’s response to the pandemic and procurement of the vaccine, the complaint was in response to an interview with South Korean Minister of the Interior and Safety Jeon Hae-cheol, which carried detailed information about how many doses of Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs will arrive here and when.

Although the information was not correct, the leakage of such information would be tantamount to a breach of a non-disclosure agreement between the vaccine suppliers and the government, said Sohn Young-rae at the central disaster response center. 

By Korea Herald (