Vaccine

Administration of Novavax’s Updated COVID-19 Vaccine Will Begin in Korea on December 18

Published January. 24. 2024

In a significant move towards bolstering South Korea’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, SK bioscience, an innovative vaccine and biotech company, announced the commencement of Novavax’s updated COVID-19 vaccine distribution to medical institutions across the country. The rollout, set to begin on December 18, marks a pivotal step in expanding vaccination options for the winter season.

Novavax’s updated COVID-19 vaccine, coded as NVX-CoV2601, received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) on November 29, 2023. Developed by Novavax, a global leader in protein-based vaccines, the updated vaccine is the sole non-mRNA vaccine in South Korea approved by the U.S., the EU, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Vaccination with Novavax’s updated COVID-19 vaccine is set to be available for individuals aged 12 and older, with reservations accessible through the COVID-19 vaccination website (ncvr.kdca.go.kr). The vaccine’s free availability underscores a commitment to widespread immunization, emphasizing inclusivity.

Novavax’s vaccine gained EUA from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on October 3, 2023, and full approval from the European Commission on October 31, 2023, for active immunization against COVID-19 in individuals aged 12 and older. The WHO granted Emergency Use Listing (EUL) on November 23, 2023, further validating its efficacy and safety profile.

Utilizing a recombinant protein-based platform, Novavax’s updated COVID-19 vaccine offers a proven safety profile and serves as an additional option for administration. Notably, the vaccine’s storage requirements between 2-8 degrees Celsius facilitate its distribution in regions where ultra-low cold chain channels are challenging or unavailable.

Non-clinical data showcased the vaccine’s ability to induce functional immune responses against various variants, including XBB.1.5, XBB.1.16, and XBB.2.3. Additionally, Novavax’s vaccine demonstrated neutralizing antibody responses to subvariants such as BA.2.86, EG.5.1, FL.1.5.1, and XBB.1.16.6, along with robust CD4+ polyfunctional cellular (T-cell) responses.

SK bioscience CEO, Jaeyong Ahn, emphasized the vaccine’s importance in combating the resurgence of COVID-19 during the winter season. With the expanded availability of Novavax’s updated COVID-19 vaccine, the winter vaccination rate is expected to rise. The recombinant protein-based vaccine, previously recommended for specific cases, is now positioned as a mainstream option alongside mRNA vaccines.

This development stems from the strategic equity investment made by SK bioscience in Novavax in August 2023, transitioning their partnership into a long-term collaboration. The extended license agreement grants SK bioscience exclusive commercialization rights for Novavax’s updated COVID-19 vaccine in South Korea, and non-exclusive rights in Thailand and Vietnam, further solidifying the commitment to global health.

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