SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s Huons Global Co Ltd will lead a consortium to produce 100 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine per month, as Moscow seeks to increase production globally to meet rising demand.
The deal to produce Sputnik V – for export rather than domestic use – is the second in South Korea and comes after biotech firm GL Rapha signed a deal late last year to make more than 150 million doses of the vaccine per year.
Shares in Huons Global jumped 29.8% to their daily limit on Friday, hitting their highest level since September 2018.
Huons said on Friday its consortium will begin producing sample batches in August and would respond flexibly to supply demand from the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Russia’s sovereign wealth fund.
The consortium includes three other local companies – Prestige BioPharma, Humedix and Boran Pharma – which will build a new production facility, Huons said in a statement.
GL Rapha, which became the second foreign producer of the vaccine after Russia announced its efficacy in early November, is waiting for final approval of its product after sending samples to Russia for validation, a GL Rapha official said.
The official said it plans to scale up production to meet the 150 million production target by the end of this year.
India on Monday became the latest country to approve Sputnik V as it grapples with record infections, spurred by hundreds of positive tests at a major religious gathering.
India’s ambassador to Moscow on Friday said deliveries of Sputnik V to India were expected to begin before the end of April.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is conducting a rolling review of the Russian vaccine as many European countries seek to ramp up inoculation programmes that have been hampered by delivery delays.
South Korea has approved three vaccines, from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, but has not begun reviewing Sputnik V for approval.
(Reporting by Sangmi Cha; Additional reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Lincoln Feast and David Holmes)