Government to invest £93m in UK vaccine manufacturing centre

By PA Media

The British government will invest up to £93m to bring forward construction of a new vaccine manufacturing centre, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said on Saturday.

The funding will ensure the new centre opens in summer 2021, a year ahead of schedule. The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) is a key component of the government’s programme to ensure that once a coronavirus vaccine is available, it can be rolled out quickly in mass quantities, the department said.

The not-for-profit facility on the Harwell science and innovation campus in Oxfordshire will have the capacity to produce enough doses for the entire UK population in as little as six months.

A further £38m is being invested in a rapid deployment facility which will be able to begin manufacturing at scale from this summer if a vaccine becomes available before the new centre is complete.

Officials said the VMIC would also boost the UK’s long-term capacity for dealing with future viruses and accelerate the production of vaccines for existing illnesses such as the flu virus.

Announcing the investment, Alok Sharma, the business secretary, said: “Once a breakthrough is made, we need to be ready to manufacture a vaccine by the millions.”

Sir Mark Walport, the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) chief executive, called the centre “an essential new weapon in the UK’s arsenal against diseases and other biological threats”.

He said: “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.”