£131m investment fast-tracks UK coronavirus vaccine production
The UK will have state-of-the-art vaccine manufacturing facilities, able to make up to 40 million doses of coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, thanks to a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) investment of £131 million.
The funding will speed construction and grow the capacity of the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), a state-of-the-art vaccine production facility that’s being built in Oxfordshire.
And it will support the creation of a “virtual VMIC” in which the manufacturing facilities are temporarily created in other premises before the giant building in Oxfordshire is ready.
“Virtual VMIC” will be able to produce up to 40 million doses of covid-19 vaccine within months of a successful vaccine being approved for production.
VMIC was already under construction as part of the UKRI Medicines Manufacturing Challenge, with the intention of producing a variety of vaccines for existing conditions and providing the UK’s emergency response and stockpile capability, able to quickly manufacture vaccines against unexpected threats such as new infectious diseases or biological agents.
Today’s funding injection means the finished final facility at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire will come online in 2021, 12 months earlier than its original launch date. It will be able to produce enough pandemic vaccine doses for the whole UK population in four to six months.
The VMIC project began in 2018 with funding of £65 million from UKRI’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and a further £10 million provided by its industry partners and other businesses. Today’s announcement takes the total UKRI funding for the project to £196 million.
UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport, said: “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.
“The UKRI-funded teams at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London have 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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