On Tuesday, SK Bioscience announces that it would receive 4.4 billion won ($3.6 million) financial backing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for research and development (R&D) on epidemic countermeasures and COVID-19 vaccine.
A day earlier, the South Korean telecommunications company, KT announced that it also received some 12 billion won ($9.7 million) funding from the Gates Foundation for epidemic preparedness solutions. The company would use artificial intelligence (AI) technology and big data to conduct its ICT-based study.
SK Group’s biotech affiliate, SK Bioscience, plans to collaborate with the U.S.-based alliance, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), in conducting non-clinical trials and develop vaccines. SK Bioscience would discuss and review the utilization of the funds with CEPI.
CEPI is a leading antigen design research institute located in the United States. The alliance finances and coordinates the global R&D on new vaccines to prevent and contain infectious diseases.
According to the South Korean biotech, the additional funds from the Gates Foundation would fast track the urgency for effective and fair priced COVID-19 vaccines. The company earlier received a 100 million won ($81,000) investment from the government to engage in the vaccine development project.
SK Bioscience plans to use three of its existing platforms to determine several COVID-19 vaccine candidates. The company expects CEPI to help secure several vaccines with higher immunogenicity.
Expertise and Commitment
Ahn Jae-yong, CEO of SK Bioscience, said that the company believes that it would quickly enter the clinical trial stage. He said that the company’s capabilities stems from its extensive experience in the development and commercialization of various vaccines.
He added that SK Bioscience’s collaboration with the Gates Foundation testifies to its technology expertise and commitment.
In the past, SK Bioscience partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop vaccines for typhoid and pediatric enteritis.
Ahn said that the company would concentrate all of its capabilities on the research and development of a COVID-19 vaccine.