President Moon Jae-in visited the UK to attend the G7 summit, and he met AstraZeneca’s global CEO on the morning of June 12 (local time).
President Moon said that the AstraZeneca vaccine is meaningful in that it was the first vaccine used in Korea starting from February this year, and he thanked AstraZeneca for its efforts in supplying the vaccine and helping Korea to become global vaccine hub.
He also suggested for cooperation so that vaccine production, supply, and vaccination can be carried out smoothly in the second half of the year and continue cooperation in other areas of bio-health.
President Moon also emphasized that AstraZeneca products produced in Korea are being supplied to the world through COVAX Facility, an international project for joint purchase of vaccines.
He then referred to the Korea-US global vaccine partnership agreed at the Korea-US summit last month, suggesting AstraZeneca to actively utilize Korea’s infrastructure as the Korean government will spare no effort to resolve the global vaccine shortage.
AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said, “We were able to fulfill our promise of providing equal access to vaccine to the world by quickly and fairly distributing the vaccine made in Korea to 75 countries, and we would like to give credit to Korea for providing the cooperation model.”
Meanwhile, SK Bioscience has secured additional hundreds of billions of won in R&D expenses to be used in Phase 3 clinical trial of GBP510, a COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
This additional fund will be used for △Multi-national Phase 3 clinical trials and licensing △Development of commercial processes with annual production of large batches and introduction of related raw materials, and △Additional R&D to prepare for variants for GBP510.
GBP510 is a candidate for a COVID-19 vaccine jointly developed by SK Biosciences with the Institute for Protein Design at University of Washington. The company began Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials at the end of last year, and is currently undergoing Stage 2, which is Phase 2 clinical trial.
Prior to this subsidy, SK Bioscience received support from CEPI for Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials, process development, and research expenses related to mutant strains. As a result, the funds saved up exclusively for GBP510-related development expenses increased to $210.1 million (about 236.9 billion won). This is the largest international support for the development of a single vaccine in Korea.
GBP510’s receptor binding protein (RBD) induces the expression of a neutralizing antibody that will neutralize the COVID-19 virus. Non-clinical tests confirmed that RBD nanoparticles induce neutralizing antibodies and block virus proliferation.
GBP510 was selected for CEP’s Wave2 Project last year, so when commercialized, it will be supplied to the world including underdeveloped countries like Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia through the COVAX facility.
Ahn Jae-yong, president of SK Bioscience, said, “CEPI’s full support for GBP510 proves the technical level and potential value of this vaccine candidate. We will take the lead in ending the pandemic by supplying enough of this vaccine to the world, by completing the development of the vaccine that can cover the variants, and building more factories.”
Pangyo Technovalley is an innovation hub for global companies comparable to the Silicon Valley in the US, Zhongguancun in China, and STATION F in France. It is an Asia tech hub with 1,259 IT, BT, CT, and NT companies that possess innovative products and technologies. Located just south of the metropolitan area, it provides the best environment for Korean companies to do business with great transportation access and infrastructure.
Various high-tech companies are located in Pangyo Technovalley, and it is occupied by 64,000 full-time employees, many in their 20-30s. In terms of industry, the companies are engaged in information technology, contents technology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology.
With the support of innovative companies with global capabilities such as Kakao, Naver, AhnLab, Krafton, NCSoft, Nexon, and Hancom, companies in Pangyo Technovalley recorded 107 trillion won in sales last year. Investment and infrastructure growth in Pangyo is expected to continue, with the Metaverse hub entering Pangyo this year.