SK Bioscience re-ups to supply vaccine manufacturing capacity to CEPI
SK Bioscience has agreed to extend its contract with Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) for use of its manufacturing capacity for Covid-19 vaccines for another year, the Korean vaccine maker said Wednesday.
Under the “capacity reservation” agreement signed on Tuesday, SK Bioscience will use three of its nine manufacturing facilities in Andong, North Gyeongsang, to make vaccines from companies that CEPI funds. The two signed a similar agreement in June last year, which was about to expire end of this year. The contract is now valid until Dec. 2022.
CEPI is an international foundation that finances and coordinates the development of new vaccines to prevent and contain epidemics.
CEPI will supply the vaccines to many countries through the Covax Facility. Launched by the World Health Organization, the Covax Facility is a global initiative of governments and manufacturers to ensure Covid-19 vaccines reach people in greatest need, regardless of nationality and location. The Covax Facility aims to distribute a total of 2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines by first quarter of next year.
SK Bioscience received 1 euro ($1.2) as a down payment from the CEPI. It can still receive more when signing actual manufacturing deals with biopharmaceutical companies.
In cooperation with CEPI, SK Bioscience in February signed a licensing deal with Gaithersburg, Maryland’s Novavax for its NVX-CoV2373 coronavirus vaccine. SK Bioscience received the exclusive rights to manufacture, gain approvals and sell the vaccines in Korea, though the value of the deal was not disclosed.
L House, SK Bioscience's manufacturing site, has the capacity to produce millions of doses of vaccines per year and can make various types of vaccines simultaneously, the company said. Earlier the year, L House obtained an EU-good manufacturing practice certification approval by the European Medicines Agency.
“Over 6.2 billion doses have now been rolled out around the world, and only 2.3 percent of people in low-income countries have received their first shot. We must continue to work to overcome these unacceptable inequities,” Richard Hatchett, CEO at CEPI, said in Wednesday’s statement. “By securing this additional production capacity with SK Bioscience, we can push forward our joint commitment to increase the global Covid-19 vaccine supply.”
“This expanded collaboration further strengthens ties between our two organizations and with the Republic of Korea, and in doing so, help to bolster the world’s ability to control Covid-19.”
On Tuesday, SK Bioscience and CEPI also promised to cooperate in accelerating the development of Korean company’s own Covid-19 vaccine candidate, GBP510, which is currently in Phase 3 clinical trials. They are also having discussions about developing vaccines for variants, as well as booster shots.
SK Bioscience received a total of $213.7 million from CEPI and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the initial development of GBP510.
GBP510 was selected as the first vaccine candidate for CEPI’s “Wave 2” initiative. Once commercialized, hundreds of millions of doses will be supplied.
“The extension of the contract with CEPI was possible as SK Bioscience’s manufacturing system and capability have been recognized globally,” said Ahn Jae-yong, CEO of SK Bioscience. “Next year, we will definitely secure and supply our own developed Covid-19 vaccine so that we could become a hub for global vaccine supply.”
BY SARAH CHEA [email@example.com]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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