August 16, 2022

South Korea’s SK Group vaccine making unit, SK Bioscience Co. announced to have extended an agreement with the U.S.-based biotechnology company Novavax Inc. to manufacture a component of its COVID-19 vaccine by one more year on Friday.

According to the extended agreement, through 2022 SK Bioscience will reserve additional manufacturing capacity to produce Novavax’s antigen, a key component of NVX-CoV2373, which is a recombinant protein-based COVID-19 vaccine.

The two companies had initially signed the agreement last year to reserve manufacturing capacity for the production of NVX-CoV2373 through 2021at SK Bioscience’s Andong plant.

SK bioscience under the latest agreement has also acquired non-exclusive rights to sell doses of Novavax’s vaccine to Vietnam and Thailand.

The latest agreement between the companies also adds on a previously announced advance purchase agreement between SK bioscience and the South Korean government. The latter parties had agreed to supply 40 million doses of Novavax’s vaccines to the country.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum on Friday announced that the country is in the final stage of signing a contract with U.S. drug giant Pfizer Inc. to get its oral drug for COVID-19. The government has been discussing a purchase deal with Pfizer for over 300,000 people.

The Prime Minister’s latest announcement came after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill – Paxlovid.

According to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, the emergency authorization of Pfizer’s Paxlovid is expected to be out possibly next week.

Kim commented that it is rather too early to comment that the country is seeing a downward trend in virus infections, even though the daily cases after tightening social distancing measures from last weekend seem to have remained around 7,000.

The government is focusing on securing hospital beds to a level where it can handle 10,000 patients a day. As the number of serious COVID-19 cases continued to rise, it has passed an order to public and national university hospitals to provide more beds for critically-ill virus patients.

Lastly, Kim also called for people to get booster vaccine shots and ordered the disease control agency to review inoculation of children.