Coronavirus Healthcare & Coronavirus NHS & COVID-19

COVID-19 Vaccine – 93 million investment in vaccine manufacturing

COVID 19 Vaccine

COVID-19 Vaccine – 93 million investment in vaccine manufacturing

The UK government is set to invest £93 million in order to expedite the opening of a new manufacturing centre for a COVID-19 vaccine.

The investment is intended to both speed the construction of the COVID-19 Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre and grow the capacity of the facility.

The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), is a new, not for profit, research company based on Oxford’s Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.

VMIC is a partnership between the University of Oxford, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Imperial College, each of which have comprehensive experience in developing and clinically evaluating novel vaccines.

The VMIC was already under construction, with the purpose of producing a range of vaccines for existing conditions and to provide for the UK’s stockpile capability.

Now due to open earlier than originally planned, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has confirmed that the centre is set to open in the summer of 2021, a whole 12 months ahead of schedule.

The state of the art manufacturing centre is planned to have the capacity to produce sufficient quantities of the COVID-19 Vaccine for the entire population of the UK population in just four to six months.

Alok Sharma, the UK’s Business Secretary, announced the investment in the centre and emphasised the vital importance of preparation stating: “Once a breakthrough is made, we need to be ready to manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine by the millions.”

As well as producing a COVID-19 Vaccine for the current pandemic, the UK’s potential for coping with any viruses in the future will also be strengthened by the VMIC.

The centre will serve to develop and deliver vaccines for new infectious diseases as well as producing vaccines for existing viruses such as flu virus vaccines.

Additionally, the VMIC will be able to provide both expertise and training to academic groups in order to continue to establish the UK industry.

A rapid deployment facility is also being developed with the help of a further £38 million investment. The aim is to be in a position to begin manufacturing at large scale from as early as this summer, should a COVID-19 Vaccine become available prior to the completion of the new manufacturing centre.

Sir Mark Walport, the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) chief executive, highlighted the significance of The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre calling it “an essential new weapon in the UK’s arsenal against diseases and other biological threats, ensuring sufficient vaccines get to the public in the fastest possible time.”

Going on to praise the pace at which scientists have been working to develop a vaccine, Sir Mark stated that the University of Oxford and Imperial College London’s UKRI-funded teams had “developed potential coronavirus vaccines at unprecedented speed.”

“By working with partners including Government, VMIC and the Vaccines Taskforce to fast-track the manufacturing capability, we are ensuring that momentum will continue all the way from lab to patient.

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