The UK Government is to invest £93 million to bring forward the opening of a new vaccine-manufacturing centre to ensure it is ready to begin production when a coronavirus vaccine is found.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) in Oxfordshire will now open in summer 2021, 12 months earlier than planned. However, a further £38 million 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.
The not-for-profit facility, based at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxford, will have the capacity to produce enough doses for the entire UK population in as little as six months.
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.