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SK Bioscience upgrades vaccine deal with Novavax

Renewed contract to allow manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccine against BA.5 omicron subvariant

July 19, 2022 - 15:35 By Kan Hyeong-woo
SK Bioscience CEO Ahn Jae-yong (right) signs a contract manufacturing organization deal with Novavax Executive Vice President John Herrmann for the production of Novavax’s new COVID-19 vaccine against BA.5 subvariants. (SK Bioscience)
SK Bioscience has renewed a contract manufacturing organization deal with US biotech Novavax to produce COVID-19 vaccines targeted at preventing the spread of highly contagious variants such as BA.5, officials said Tuesday.

The two firms had signed a CMO deal to produce Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine last year.

According to the South Korean company, the renewal will allow the transfer of Novavax’s technology to SK Bioscience, which will then manufacture Novavax’s undiluted COVID-19 vaccine at SK Bioscience’s Andong plant in North Gyeongsang Province.

On top of the renewed contract, the companies also inked a new CMO deal worth $29.8 million for SK Bioscience to supply the vaccines against virus variants in prefilled syringes.

SK Bioscience plans to use prefilled syringes for the vaccines produced from next year. Prefilled syringes are safer and more convenient to inoculate compared to the existing glass vial packaging, according to the company.

“Clinical data generated to-date demonstrate that the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine offers broad immune responses including against circulating variants, such as the omicron BA.5,” said Novavax CEO Stanley Erck. “We are accelerating our clinical program on omicron BA.5 and look forward to working with SK Bioscience to bring this vaccine to market.”

SK Bioscience said the company is currently in talks with Novavax to extend the COVID-19 vaccine CMO deal, which is set to last until the end of this year.

“We are trying to play the role of a global vaccine hub again at a time when we need to challenge new virus variants,” said SK Bioscience CEO Ahn Jae-yong. “We will take the lead in protecting public health as an innovative vaccine company and partner through cooperation with various global companies.”

Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of Novavax’s vaccine, also known as Nuvaxovid, as the fourth COVID-19 vaccine to be approved in the US. Earlier, Nuvaxovid became the fifth COVID-19 vaccine to obtain the green light from the Korean drug authorities in January.