Korean CDMOs come into play to support global COVID-19 supply

Moderna has inked a deal with Samsung Biologics and Novavax has signed a memorandum of understanding with SK bioscience to provide global access to their vaccines.

Novavax has not yet received authorization for its recombinant protein COVID-19 vaccine candidate NVX-CoV2373 but it is prepping for commercialization, signing a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Korea and contract development manufacturing organization (CDMO) SK bioscience.

Under the terms of the agreement, SK bioscience will continue to manufacture the vaccines using its facility and support from the Korean government. The firm has also agreed to potentially develop new vaccine products, which include COVID-19 variant and combination vaccines.

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“Novavax is working to provide broad and equitable access to NVX-CoV2373, our recombinant protein nanoparticle vaccine candidate, in the Republic of Korea and globally,” a spokesperson for Novavax told BioProcess Insider. “Our manufacturing and licensing collaboration with SK bioscience support these efforts by expanding our manufacturing capacity beyond what we could accomplish alone.”

This is not Novavax’ first partnership to fulfil global vaccine demand. The firm has collaborated with various companies such as GlaxoSmithKline in the UK and India’s Serum Insititute to manufacture more than a billion doses.

According to Novavax, an advantage of operating in Korea is that “regional production can help to ensure geographically dispersed vaccine supply that can quickly be deployed regionally.”

They continued: “We have built an extensive manufacturing network comprising numerous partnerships in multiple countries and look forward to leveraging the full capacity of our partners to deliver vaccine to address the vast global need upon regulatory approval.”

Moderna and Samsung Bio

Moderna has also tapped into the Korean space with Samsung Biologics set to provide fill-finish services for its cell-free messenger RNA (mRNA) 1273 COVID-19 vaccine.

Once the deal has closed, a technology transfer will occur at Samsung’s facilities in Incheon, South Korea.

The CDMO will use a production line that is equipped for labelling, aseptic fill-finish, and packaging services to support the manufacture of hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine expected to supply markets outside of the US in the third quarter of 2021.

Like Novavax, Moderna has teamed up with various CDMOs to accelerate production of its vaccine. These include: Catalent, which has dedicated a high-speed vial filling line to Moderna in April and French pharma giant Sanofi is also using its site in Ridgefield, New Jersey to fill-finish up to 200 million doses of the vaccine.

Recipharm is also providing fill-finish services in France for Moderna.

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