SEOUL (Reuters) -Samsung BioLogics Co Ltd and Pfizer Inc on Wednesday denied a report that they were working together to produce in South Korea a COVID-19 vaccine developed by the U.S. drugmaker.
The Korea Economic Daily reported earlier that the biotech arm of Samsung Group had been revamping production lines at its plant in Songdo to produce the Pfizer vaccine, which was jointly developed by the German BioNTech.
The report quoted an unnamed high-level government official as saying the plant had the capacity to make up to 1 billion doses per year and production could start as early as in August.
Samsung BioLogics said in a one-line filing to the stock exchange that the report was “not factual”. The company did not respond to requests for a more detailed comment.
Pfizer said its current production strategy was centred on its two dedicated supply lines in the U.S. and Europe that which exclusively manufacture its vaccine for global use.
“At this time we are not in discussions for any additional manufacturing outside these established supply lines for this vaccine,” Pfizer said in a statement.
“Once the pandemic supply phase is over and we enter a phase of regular supplies, Pfizer will certainly evaluate all additional opportunities available.”
South Korean health authority in charge of COVID-19 vaccine procurement said it was not in a position to comment on the report.
The country has secured 192 million doses, enough to vaccinate all 52 million residents twice over.
But President Moon Jae-in is under pressure to secure more and faster deliveries of U.S.-made shots as he heads for his first summit with U.S. President Joe Biden next week.
South Korea has been relatively successful in its response to the pandemic, but questions over vaccine rollout amid global shortages and shipment delays drive public scepticism about Seoul’s goal of reaching herd immunity by November.
Just over 7% of the population have received at least one dose, and the country reported 635 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 128,918, with 1,884 deaths.
(Reporting by Sangmi Cha; additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Jane Wardell, Gabriela Baczynska)