South Korea to buy 10 million doses of SK Bioscience's COVID vaccine

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People wearing masks to prevent contracting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) walk at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, March 5, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

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SEOUL, March 21 (Reuters) - South Korea has reached a deal to buy 10 million doses of the country's first experimental coronavirus vaccine, developed by SK Bioscience Co Ltd (302440.KS), authorities said on Monday.

The South Korean company has since August conducted Phase 3 trials of its vaccine candidate, codenamed "GBP510", jointly developed with the University of Washington's Institute for Protein Design and aided by global drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

"They aim to secure formal approval in the first half of this year, and public distribution is expected to begin in the latter half," Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) director Jeong Eun-kyeong told a briefing.

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SK Bioscience said in a statement the deal is worth 200 billion won ($164.6 million) and that it would also supply its vaccine to the global vaccine sharing facility COVAX once authorised.

The drugmaker also produces COVID-19 vaccines developed by AstraZeneca Plc and Novavax Inc.

($1 = 1,215.3400 won)

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Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Tom Hogue and Sam Holmes

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