Vaccine manufacturing equipment in operation

Large-scale Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing begins in the UK

Following a multi-million-pound joint investment by the UK Government last year into a commercial manufacturing facility, production of another Covid-19 vaccine is set to begin at the site in Livingston, Scotland.

UK investment into the facility was part of an agreement in principle with the specialist vaccine manufacturer operating the site, with view to ensure early access to the company’s vaccine by the end of 2021.

More than 60 million doses of the Valneva vaccine have already been secured, with an option to acquire a further 130 million more should the vaccine candidate pass the necessary MHRA standards for safety, efficacy and suitability.

Around 100 new highly-skilled jobs for scientists and technicians will also be supported by the Livingston facility, doubling the workforce and putting Scotland at the forefront of the UK efforts to overcome Covid-19.

Establishing a permanent vaccine manufacturing base will also bolster UK resiliency in dealing not just current but future pandemics too.

The Valneva vaccine candidate is currently undergoing its phase I/II trials and will still be required to meet strict safety and effectiveness standards, with all data reviewed by the UK’s medicines regulator, before it can be rolled out by the end of the year.

However, by beginning manufacturing of the vaccine candidate ahead of schedule, should the vaccine candidate receive regulatory approval, the UK will be in a stronger position to rapidly roll out the vaccine.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Thanks to the UK Vaccine Taskforce, we have ordered up to 60 million jabs of this promising vaccine if it proves to be safe, effective and suitable in its clinical trials this year.

“By starting manufacturing, we will have a running start at rolling these out as quickly as possible to protect the British public if it receives regulatory approval.

“This facility in Scotland, backed by millions from the Government, will help us beat coronavirus and boost our resilience against future pandemics.”

The new facility establishes a permanent UK capability to manufacture inactivated viral vaccines – one of the most proven, widely used types which is also used for flu, polio and rabies jabs.

Should the vaccine proves successful and receives regulatory approval following a rigorous assessment of available data, the Livingston facility will have the capacity to produce up to 250 million doses annually for shipment across the UK and around the world.

Scottish Secretary, Alister Jack said: “It’s incredibly exciting that a potential new Covid-19 vaccine will be manufactured right here in Scotland.

“This big step forward is a testament to the talent and hard work of all the staff who have worked so far to get to this stage.

“The UK government has invested millions into developing the Valneva vaccine, which is also supporting hundreds of highly skilled jobs in Scotland.”

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NHE May/June 22

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