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Moderna to Produce Covid Vaccine in Korea?

14.05.2021 - After German Covid-19 vaccine maufacturer BioNTech announced earlier this week that it plans to expand into Asia with a new plant in Singapore, news has emerged that US rival Moderna will set up a production base in South Korea. The company has not yet confirmed a story by the Korea Times that quotes Korean government officials as sources.

"Moderna recently expressed its intention to purchase land on Yeongjong Island, an hour away from Incheon International Airport, and its CEO Stephane Bancel is expected to visit Cheong Wa Dae as early as this weekend or May 18 at the latest,” the paper wrote.

The mRNA vaccine maker is said to believe that its US vaccine production facilities are insufficient for supplying its Covid vaccine throughout Asia. Its potential plan to make Korea the manufacturing hub for the vaccines in Asia, would dovetail with Korea’s plans to become a vaccine hub in the region.

Moderna's shot is currently in the licensing review process in Korea, with reports saying that after studying clinical trial data on 28,207 participants a panel under the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety had determined the vaccine to have a 94.1% efficacy in preventing Covid-19.

Korean president Moon met with Novavax CEO Stanley Erck in April to discuss a potential vaccine cooperation last month, the Times said. According to Reuters, Korea has secured altogether 192 million doses of Covid vaccines. In addtion to Moderna and Novavax, this also includes AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Japanese drugs giant Takeda previously announced plans to produce about 250 million doses of the the Novavax vaccine.

Australia to buy 25 million Moderna doses

The government of Australia this week agreed to buy 25 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from Moderna by the end 2022, with 10 million pledged for 2021. The deal is said to include 15 million booster shots intended to be efficient against variants. Earlier this month, Moderna released positive results from trials of a modified vaccine aimed at the South African and Brazilian Covid-19 variants.

Australia's Covid-19 vaccine rollout has been sluggish up to now, but the government has now set a new goal of vaccinating all willing adults by the end of this year.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist

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