November 24, 2022 12:10
SK Bioscience has halted production of SKYCovione, Korea's first homegrown COVID-19 vaccine, because there is virtually no domestic uptake and no overseas markets exist.
The vaccine was developed to fight the first COVID strain and has since been superseded by up-to-date foreign vaccines formulated against the now-dominant Omicron variants.
"Due to low vaccination rate, we have not been producing SKYCovione since the early shipment," SK Bioscience said Wednesday.
Peck Kyong-ran, the chief of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, also told reporters Wednesday, "We're encouraging people to get additional booster shots for the winter season with new bivalent vaccines, while the administration of the monovalent vaccines will be suspended."
That means the millions of SKYCovione doses the government stockpiled are likely to be thrown away.
"We will resume production of SKYCovione in the future if the government asks and are now in the process of winning global approval for overseas sales," SK added.
SKYCovione has been administered since Sept. 5 but uptake has been negligible. There were high hopes for the recombinant-protein vaccine because it was expected to cause fewer side effects than new mRNA vaccines. But the appearance of the Omicron variants, which breaks through the immunity provided by earlier vaccines, scuppered those hopes.
A mere 34 people or a daily average of three were given SKYCovione in the first 10 days, and even when it was approved for boosters the total did not rise above 2,000.
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