President Moon Jae-in said on Jan. 20, “With the recent purchase contract between Novavax and SK Bioscience, the possibility of securing vaccines for 20 million people in addition to 56 million people has been opened.”
President Moon made the remarks while visiting SK Bioscience factory in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province, to check the production site of the new coronavirus infection (COVID-19) vaccines.
“It has been exactly one year since Korea reported its first confirmed COVID-19 case. Our people have come together to overcome the virus and help make our country’s response a model for the world. With vaccines and treatments being developed one after another, the hope of prevailing over COVID-19 continues to grow and we can look forward to a quick return to our normal lives. Korea, too, will begin vaccinations in the coming month,” he said.
Noting that SK Bioscience is now serving as a contract manufacturer for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and spearheading Korea’s vaccine development., he said, “On behalf of the people, I extend the deepest gratitude to those researchers, developers and production-line workers who have probably never been as busy as they were this past year.”
AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for emergency use in the United Kingdom and is now undergoing ther Ministry of Food and Drug Safety’s final review process. Its rollout will be determined following a three-phase advisory procedure, with the top priority placed on safety. If approved, a sizable portion of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which will be supplied to the COVAX Facility for global distribution, will be produced in Korea.
Recently, Novavax and SK Bioscience have initiated contract negotiations, paving the way for us to procure an additional 20 million doses in addition to the 56 million obtained so far.
For its part, the government plans to secure all of these additional supplies through advance purchases. This contract has particular significance as it includes not only vaccine production but also technology transfer. This will also play a significant role in guaranteeing uninterrupted and equitable distribution of the vaccines and advancing our vaccine development.
“A pan-government taskforce has been launched to oversee a nationwide inoculation against COVID-19. Beginning with the vaccination of those who are prioritized next month, we intend to achieve herd immunity by November at the latest. In addition to readying trained inoculation professionals, the government will prepare countermeasures against possible adverse reactions and a system to compensate for any damage,” President Moon said.
He added, “We expect to be able to utilize domestically developed treatments starting next month. If we can successfully develop a vaccine on our own, Korea will be able to leap forward as a biohealth industry leader, moving beyond overcoming COVID-19.”