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South Korea discusses up to 1 billion doses with mRNA vaccine maker-Government official ByReuters

© Reuters. File photo: Elderly people in South Korea will receive the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at the Vaccination Center in Seoul, South Korea on April 1, 2021. Jung Sung Joon / REUTERS via pool

By Sangmi Cha

Seoul (Reuters)-South Korea is in talks with mRNA vaccine manufacturers including: Pfizer (NYSE :) and Modana (NASDAQ :) Government officials said they were ready to produce COVID-19 shots domestically and provide the ability to instantly administer up to 1 billion doses.

The agreement will ease the tight global supply of COVID-19 vaccines and bring South Korea one step closer to becoming a major vaccine manufacturing center, especially in Asia, where vaccine deployment is slow in North America and Europe. can do.

South Korea has already signed a contract to locally produce three coronavirus vaccines developed by AstraZeneca / Oxford University. Novavax (NASDAQ :), and Russia. We also have a vaccine bottling and packaging contract with Moderna.

“We are in frequent discussions with major pharmaceutical companies to produce mRNA vaccines,” Lee Kang-ho, director of the Global Vaccine Hub Committee of the Korean Ministry of Health, told Reuters.

“There are very few developers of mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer, Moderna, CureVac and BioNTech. Therefore, there is a limit to the amount that can be produced to meet global demand. Korea provides facilities and skilled human resources. He is enthusiastic about helping by doing so, “Lee said.

It is not immediately clear how far these discussions are going, if the deal will be agreed, and when it will be agreed.

BioNTech declined to comment, and Moderna and CureVac did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

A Pfizer spokeswoman said the company is working to strengthen its COVID-19 vaccine supply chain, but added that “there is nothing specific to announce at this time.”

Lee didn’t reveal the name of a local vaccine maker that could produce the mRNA vaccine immediately, but government sources said it included Hanmi Pharmaceutical and Kratis.

Hanmi confirmed that it has a large capacity reserved for Sanofi It is a diabetes drug of (NASDAQ :) and can be used to manufacture the COVID-19 vaccine due to the stagnation of the Sanofi project.

“The facility is now available because clinical trials with Sanofi were canceled in the middle of last year,” Hanmi’s senior vice president Kim Su-jin told Reuters.

“It’s very timely for us to have access to GMP’s state-of-the-art facilities that are fully prepared,” she said, referring to good manufacturing practices.

Quaratis, a manufacturer of tuberculosis vaccines, said the new plant built last year is now available for the production of mRNA vaccines.

After Reuters reports, Hanmi shares rose nearly 4% on Monday, eradicating early losses.

Collaboration with whom

South Korea has stepped up its efforts to produce more vaccines since US President Joe Biden agreed with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on a comprehensive partnership on the COVID-19 vaccine in May.

Lee said his team has frequent video conferences with vaccine makers and the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO spokesman Tarick Jasarevic told Reuters that the organization “is in talks with South Korea and other countries,” but did not provide details.

WHO announced last month that it would establish a hub in South Africa to manufacture mRNA vaccines within 9-12 months and provide companies in poor middle-income countries with the know-how and licenses to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines.

Lee said mRNA vaccine makers may be reluctant to share their technology, but they can use South Korean raw material suppliers to address the global shortage of ingredients such as lipids, nucleotides and capping reagents. Stated.

“They can manufacture and develop such raw materials to help vaccine manufacturers … and the Korean government promises to provide all necessary support, including financial and administrative assistance. . “

Apart from the deal Moderna announced with Samsung (KS :) BioLogics in May, Lee said the country is capable of receiving at least another 500 million fill-finish vaccines.

South Korea discusses up to 1 billion doses with mRNA vaccine maker-Government official ByReuters–government-official-2549692 South Korea discusses up to 1 billion doses with mRNA vaccine maker-Government official ByReuters

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