Seoul, April 27
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has met with the CEO of Maryland-based Novavax and promised to push for a swift approval of the company’s coronavirus vaccine, which will be produced through a local biotech firm.
South Korean officials hope that SK Bioscience’s production of the Novavax vaccine will help prevent possible supply shortages in coming months as the United States, European nations, and India strengthen controls on vaccine exports while coping with domestic outbreaks.
Officials say SK Bioscience is contracted to manufacture 40 million doses of the Novavax vaccine this year. Production could begin in June, and as many as 20 million shots could be delivered through September for use in South Korea, according to officials. SK already is producing at its factory in the southern town of Andong the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca.
In his meeting with Novavax CEO Stanley Erck on Tuesday, Moon said his government will establish a special team within the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety to ensure a speedy approval process for the Novavax vaccine, which is currently being reviewed in Britain and Europe, the South Korean government said.
Moon also expressed hope that Novavax would extend its manufacturing agreement with SK beyond next year to help stabilise future vaccine supplies.
South Korea hopes to get 190 million doses of coronavirus vaccines this year through bilateral deals with pharmaceutical companies and the WHO-backed COVAX programme.
Around 2.4 million of South Korea’s 51 million people had received their first shots as of Tuesday. AP