The race to manufacture millions of doses of a coronavirus vaccine has been boosted with a multi-million-pound government investment, Business Secretary Alok Sharma announced on Sunday 17th May.
The government will invest up to £93 million to accelerate construction of the new Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) which, when completed, will have capacity to produce enough vaccine doses to serve the entire UK population in as little as six months. The funding will ensure the centre opens in Summer 2021, a full 12 months ahead of schedule.
The new Centre, which is already under construction, is a key component of the government’s coronavirus vaccine programme – ensuring that once a vaccine is available it can be produced quickly and in mass quantities.
To be located on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, the new Centre will be the UK’s first not-for-profit organisation established to develop and advance the mass production of vaccines. This will boost the UK’s long-term capacity against future viruses. The centre will also accelerate the production of vaccines for existing illnesses such as the flu virus.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said, “As the biggest contributor to the international coalition to find a vaccine, the UK is leading the global response. Once a breakthrough is made, we need to be ready to manufacture a vaccine by the millions.”
While the Centre is being built, the government will establish a rapid deployment facility thanks to a further investment of £38 million to begin manufacturing at scale from Summer 2020. This facility will support efforts to ensure a vaccine is widely available to the public as soon as possible.
UK Research and Innovation Chef Executive Sir Mark Walport, commented “The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre is 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.”