Unique: South Korea in talks with mRNA vaccine producers to fabricate as much as 1 billion doses – authorities official

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: South Korean seniors receive their first dose of Pfizer BioNTech's vaccine against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on April 1, 2021 at a vaccination center in Seoul, South Korea. Chung Sung-Jun / Pool via REUTERS

From Sangmi Cha

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea is in talks with manufacturers of mRNA vaccines, including Pfizer (NYSE 🙂 and Modern (NASDAQ 🙂 to produce COVID-19 shots in the country and ready to offer the capacity to manufacture up to 1 billion cans immediately, a senior government official said.

The plan, if agreed, would help reduce the scarcity of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, particularly in Asia, which is lagging behind in launching vaccines in North America and Europe, and South Korea in its goal of being a major hub for to become a step closer to vaccine manufacturing.

South Korea has already reached agreements to locally manufacture three coronavirus vaccines developed by AstraZeneca / Oxford University. Novavax (NASDAQ 🙂 and Russia. It also has a vaccine bottling and packaging contract with Moderna.

"We have had frequent discussions with large pharmaceutical companies to manufacture mRNA vaccines," said Lee Kang-ho, director general of the South Korean Ministry of Health's global vaccine hub committee, in an interview with Reuters.

"There are few mRNA vaccine developers – Pfizer, Moderna, CureVac and BioNTech. So there is a limit to how much they can produce to meet global demand … South Korea would like to help by its facilities as well." qualified personnel, ”said Lee.

It is not immediately clear how far these talks have progressed and whether and when an agreement will be reached.

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

A Pfizer spokesman said the company is making efforts to improve its supply chain for COVID-19 vaccines but added, "We have nothing special to announce right now."

Lee declined to name local vaccine manufacturers capable of making mRNA vaccines right away, but a government source said they bought Hanmi Pharmaceuticals Co Ltd and Quratis Co Ltd.

Hanmi has confirmed that a large capacity is reserved for Sanofi (NASDAQ 🙂 Diabetes drug and can be used for COVID-19 vaccine production as the Sanofi project has stalled.

Quratis, which makes a tuberculosis vaccine, said its new factory built last year can now be used to make mRNA vaccines.

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