South Korean biotech company SK bioscience has expanded its existing partnership with Novavax for the production and supply of the latter’s Covid-19 vaccine.

The two companies have signed an agreement, under which Novavax will share the technology related to its exclusive Covid-19 variant antigen materials with SK bioscience.

The technology transfer allows SK bioscience to manufacture the drug substance targeting Covid-19 variants including the Omicron BA.5 subvariant.

In addition, the companies reached an agreement for the manufacture and supply of the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine, also called NVX-CoV2373, in prefilled syringes.

SK bioscience plans to commence the work related to the manufacturing process for the commercial supply of the vaccine in prefilled syringes in 2023.

Novavax president and chief executive officer Stanley C Erck said: “Non-clinical data generated to date demonstrate that our Covid-19 vaccine offers broad immune responses including against circulating variants, such as Omicron BA.5.

“We are accelerating our clinical program evaluating an Omicron BA.5 component to our vaccine and look forward to continuing to work with SK bioscience as an important manufacturing partner.”

The current agreements expand existing licensing and collaboration agreements between the two companies, for Novavax’s protein-based Covid-19 vaccine.

SK has been exclusively commercialising the vaccine in South Korea, and together with Novavax in Vietnam and Thailand.

The NVX-CoV2373 is an adjuvanted recombinant nanoparticle protein-based Covid-19 vaccine, authorised in the US for emergency use in individuals aged 18 years and above.

It is the fifth Covid-19 vaccine to be approved in South Korea, and the fourth vaccine to receive emergency use authorisation (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration.

SK bioscience CEO Jaeyong Ahn said: “We will play a role as a global vaccine hub through the contracts in a situation where new vaccines against variants are required.

“We will take the lead in protecting public health as an innovative vaccine/bio partner based on the cooperation with various global companies, as well as developing diverse vaccines independently.”

In July last year, Novavax signed an agreement with FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies (FDB) to produce bulk drug substance for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate.