Andong City in North Gyeongsang Province is emerging as the center of the Korean vaccine industry.
The provincial government has been seeking to create a medical cluster encompassing vaccine in Andong, Asian medicine in Gyeongsan, and accelerator-based new drugs in Pohang.
In Andong, there are already vaccine research facilities such as the Andong Branch of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) and the Gyeongbuk Bio Industry Research Institute. The IVI opened its branch in Andong in November 2016.
In 2021, the Foundation for the Globalization of the Korean Vaccine Industry, an organization affiliated with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, will complete the Animal Cell Validation Support Center, expanding the city’s vaccine research infrastructure.
The vaccine manufacturing facilities in Andong include an SK Bioscience plant, the first cell culture-based vaccine manufacturing plant in Korea which started commercial operation in 2015.
SK Bioscience, which produces flu vaccines, has recently announced a plan to invest an additional 100 billion won in its plant to double its production.
SK Plasma, another subsidiary of the SK Group, has been building a blood product manufacturing plant since 2015. The plant is scheduled to be completed within this year.
To supply professional manpower to these research and manufacturing facilities, Andong National University will open a vaccine engineering department for the first time in Korea.
Recently, SK Bioscience signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with North Gyeongsang Province and Andong City on expanding its vaccine production plant in the Andong Bio Industrial Complex.
SK Bioscience will invest about 100 billion won over five years until 2022 to expand the commercial production facilities of major vaccines such as cell culture-derived flu vaccine.
SK Bioscience is a spin-off from SK Chemical’s vaccine division. After the decision to build a vaccine factory in Andong in 2008, SK Chemical’s vaccine division spent about 400 billion won on building facilities and research and development, and succeeded in developing SKY Flu 4, the world's first four-strain cell culture-derived flu vaccine, and Sky Zoster, the world's second shingles vaccine.
The company continues to make investments to develop and commercialize high value-added premium vaccines such as next-generation pneumococcal vaccines, and vaccines for cervical cancer, childhood enteritis, and typhoid.
SK Plasma is building a world-scale blood products factory that can treat 600,000L of plasma a year. The company is in discussion with the city government to expand the plant to accommodate the demands of global companies.
The Animal Cell Validation Support Cetner is a contract manufacturing organization (CMO) for clinical vaccines. It will help domestic vaccine companies develop vaccine candidate substances and conduct global non-clinical and clinical tests.
Once the center is established, it will lessen the burden of venture and small and medium sized companies to invest in pricey vaccine production facilities. Especially, developing vaccines will take less time as the period for entering the vaccine market will be shortened, which will contribute to enhancing the competitiveness of the vaccine industry both domestically and internationally.