Britain will be able to vaccinate the entire nation against new Covid strains within four months after a £158m super-factory opens later this year in Oxfordshire.
In good news for the UK's battle against Covid-19 and any new variants that rear their ugly heads in the future, Dr Matthew Duchars, chief executive of the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC), revealed the Oxfordshire facility will be capable of producing 70m doses of an emergency vaccine manufactured entirely on British soil. The centre is already helping to manufacture the Oxford vaccine by lending expertise to the AstraZeneca team.
“We’ll be able to make 70 million doses within a four to five month period, enough for everyone in the country, when we open late this year,” Dr Duchars told The Telegraph.
“New Covid variants are absolutely part of the thinking. We probably will need to make seasonal vaccine variants because there may well be mutations in the virus, as well as vaccines for other diseases. You never know what’s coming next.”
Currently under construction at the Harwell Science & Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, the VMIC was first conceived in 2018 and originally planned to open in 2022. When the Covid pandemic struck, the UK government pumped a further £131 million into the not-for-profit company to bring the project forward by a year.
Much of the Pfizer and Oxford vaccine doses currently being rolled out in the UK are made in factories in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Dr Duchars said the VMIC would be equipped to produce different types of vaccines including MRNA varieties like the Pfizer jab and adenovirus-based technology like the Oxford AstraZeneca jab. He said the new centre is “technology agnostic”, meaning it can be adapted to different methods for different types of vaccine and viruses.
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