South Korea approves first domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine

A woman holds a small bottle labelled with a “Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine” sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken October 30, 2020. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

SEOUL — South Korea approved its first domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured by SK bioscience Co Ltd, for general public use following positive clinical data, authorities said on Wednesday.

The SKYCovione vaccine was authorized for a two-dose regimen on people aged 18 or older, with shots given four weeks apart, according to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

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In a phase III clinical trial of 4,037 adults, SKYCovione induced neutralizing antibody responses against the SARS-CoV-2 parental strain, SK bioscience said in a statement.

It is not yet known how effective it is against Omicron and other COVID variants.

The vaccine was jointly developed by the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design, with the support of global drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

SK bioscience said it would seek authorizations for distribution of SKYCovione in other countries and through global vaccine sharing facility COVAX, and for emergency use listing at the World Health Organization.

South Korean authorities have agreed a 200 billion won ($155 million) deal to buy 10 million doses of the vaccine, which can be stored under normal refrigeration conditions, and previously said they expected it to be rolled out from the second half of the year.