SEOUL • Moderna and Novavax have entered into a deal with the South Korean government to manufacture their Covid-19 vaccines, as the country has been under pressure to secure more and faster deliveries of US-made vaccines.
The agreements with the US drugmakers came on Saturday, a day after US President Joe Biden said he and South Korean President Moon Jae-in had agreed on a comprehensive partnership on Covid-19 vaccines and that the United States would provide vaccinations for 550,000 South Korean soldiers.
Under pressure over the pandemic, Mr Moon said a partnership would combine US expertise and Korean production capacity.
Moderna, whose vaccine was granted approval in South Korea on Friday, said its vaccine will be made by Samsung Biologics and that it intends to supply doses to markets outside the US starting in the third quarter.
South Korea has emerged as a global vaccine production base with its fourth Covid-19 vaccine contract manufacturing deal, said Vice-Minister of Health Kang Do-tae.
"The establishment of the South Korea-US vaccine partnership is to build the basis for mass production of vaccines domestically by combining the advanced technology of the US with the production capabilities of South Korea," he said yesterday.
South Korea has deals to produce locally Covid-19 vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca and Novavax, and Russia's Sputnik V.
The country has secured access to 40 million doses of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine, the authorities had said.
Novavax has also reaffirmed its partnership with South Korean firm SK Bioscience to expand its production of vaccines, including the US drug developer's protein-based Covid-19 vaccine candidate.
In February, Novavax had entered into a licence agreement with the South Korean manufacturer to produce 40 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine for the country.
South Korea, which has vaccinated fewer than 10 per cent of its 52 million people, aims to inoculate at least 70 per cent by September.
It has ordered up to 192 million doses of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Novavax, Moderna as well as Johnson & Johnson.
South Korea reported 585 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 135,929, with 1,931 deaths.