Which company to produce Moderna Covid-19 vaccines in Korea?

05-Jan-2021 Intellasia | KoreaBiomed | 6:02 AM Print This Post

The Korean government’s deal with Moderna to purchase 40 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines has raised the question of which drugmaker will manufacture them.

On Thursday, the government said it inked the deal with Moderna for the supply of 40 million doses, double the initial plan. Deliveries will start in the second quarter, instead of the third quarter.

Earlier on December 28, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told President Moon Jae-in on the phone that the company would choose a Korean contract manufacturing organisation (CMO) for the vaccine supply.

GC Pharma came up as one of the CMO candidates. The drugmaker has already signed a CMO deal for Covid-19 vaccines with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). Among 10 Covid-19 vaccine candidates developed under the CEPI’s support, vaccines of AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Moderna are closest to approval.

Under the CMO deal with CEPI, GC Pharma will produce 500 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from March 2021 to May 2022. After winning the CEPI deal in October, GC Pharma has been discussing with multiple Covid-19 vaccine developers for manufacturing.

GC Pharma will not produce undiluted solution but conduct the “Fill & Finish” process, filling the produced fluid into vials and finishing them. The company said its Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing would occur in a factory in Ochang, North Chungcheong Province.

GC Pharma’s plant in Ochang can produce up to 1 billion doses a year, assuming that the production runs eight hours a day. As the company manufactures about 200 to 300 million doses of its vaccines, it can use Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing’s remaining capacity, it said.

However, an official at GC Pharma declined to comment on whether the company won a CMO deal with Moderna. “We’re still at a stage before signing an official contract with a vaccine manufacturer,” the official said.

Hanmi Pharmaceutical is also mentioned as a possible candidate for a deal with Moderna because of its large-scale biopharmaceutical plant.

Hanmi completed the construction of the second factory in Pyeongtak, Gyeonggi Province, in 2018. The company installed the second incubator (reactor) capable of producing 12,500 litres of gene therapy products. The new plant is known to produce vaccines using bacterial cultivation.

The pharmaceutical industry expects Hanmi’s plant could mass-produce DNA and mRNA vaccines, and the company does not deny such a possibility. According to Hanmi, the plant can produce 100 million doses of DNA vaccines annually and 1 billion doses of RNA vaccines per year.

Hanmi is yet to produce genetic therapy, so the biopharmaceutical plant’s operation is low.

An official at Hanmi said nothing had been discussed yet regarding any Covid-19 vaccine deal.

However, he added that the plant in Pyeongtak could manufacture both drug substances and drug products of biopharmaceutical drugs.



Category: Korea

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