SK Bioscience said on March 18 that it has been selected as a priority negotiating partner in the "Synthetic Antigen-based Coronaviruse (COVID-19) Subunit Vaccine Candidate Material Development," a state-run task for the development of the coronavirus, which was published by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
The national task was pushed by the public and private sectors to quickly develop a vaccine, considering the growing number of confirmed and death tolls in Korea due to the worldwide infection of COVID-19.
To that end, the KCDC conducted bids for schools, research institutes and companies in Korea, and finally selected SK Bioscience, which has accumulated know-how in all areas related to producting, including clinical, manufacturing and production.
Through this task, the KCDC will screen antigen (a substance that causes the human body to form immune antibodies) and develop subunit (antigens containing part of the virus) vaccine candidate materials quickly based on genetic information analyzed at home and abroad.
Under the support of the KCDC, SK Bioscience will conduct R&D activities such as screening antigen parts needed to produce COVID-19 subunit vaccine candidate materials, synthesizing antigen parts, producing various candidate materials, developing immunity assessment analysis methods, and evaluating the effectiveness of candidate materials in animals.
SK Bioscience earlier launched an R&D program last month to secure a vaccine manufacturing technology platform that can be applied quickly in the event of the spread of new infectious diseases.
Preparations are currently under way for animal clinical trials by developing a platform that would allow rapid vaccine development through the same process, even if no existing respiratory disease strain virus emerged.
"We have a system that allows mass production as soon as the development of new corona vaccines is completed through Andong L-house, which boasts the world's best facility and scale," said Ahn Jae-yong, CEO of SK Bioscience. "We will make utmost efforts with the government to secure the technological capability to preemptively respond to a national emergency."