STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

UK minister Alok Sharma unveils new multi-million-pound COVID-19 vaccine facility

The facility, when completed, will have capacity to produce enough vaccine doses to serve the entire UK population in as little as six months.

Published: 17th May 2020 04:12 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th May 2020 04:12 PM   |  A+A-

UK Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Alok Sharma

UK Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Alok Sharma. (Photo| AP)

By PTI

LONDON: Britain's Indian-origin business minister Alok Sharma on Sunday announced a new 93-million pounds investment to accelerate construction of a new vaccine manufacturing facility as part of wider plans to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said that the new Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), 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 the first half of the next year, 12 months ahead of schedule. A further 38 million pounds government investment will go towards establishing a rapid deployment facility, to be ready in the coming months.

"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. The new Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre and temporary facility will build 'fill and finish' capacity, bringing the UK vaccine programme together from discovery to distribution," said Sharma.

The new centre, already under construction, is said to be a key component of the government's coronavirus programme in boosting the UK's capacity to develop and mass produce vaccines.

ALSO READ| UK begins trial to see if dogs can 'sniff out' COVID-19

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.

BEIS said that this will boost the UK's long-term capacity against future viruses and will also accelerate the production of vaccines for existing illnesses, such as the flu virus. "Today's announcement by the Business Secretary is an important endorsement for the work the Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre will deliver in shoring up future domestic supply of vaccines in response to a pandemic," said Dr Matthew Duchars, the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre's Chief Executive.

"This investment will rapidly accelerate the construction of the facility, enabling us to bring it online a year sooner. In addition, the capacity will be significantly increased, so that enough vaccines could be made for everyone in the UK within a matter of months of opening," he said.

While the new centre is being built, the government will establish the rapid deployment facility to begin manufacturing at scale from this year itself to support efforts to ensure any COVID-19 vaccine is widely available to the public as soon as possible.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Chef Executive 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," he added.

The UK government highlighted that it has pledged 250 million pounds to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the highest contribution of any country, and is also hosting the upcoming global pledging conference for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, on June 4.

ALSO READ| COVID-19: Half of Brits repatriated globally are from India

This forms part of the UK's COVID-19 strategy committing 388 million pounds to the international drive to develop vaccines, tests and treatments. The novel coronavirus, which emerged in Wuhan in December last year, has killed more than 312,000 people worldwide and infected over 4.6 million others.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp