Image of a research holding a vaccine depicting the UK Health Security Agency's new deal in the event of influenza pandemic

New deal to give UK access to 100 million vaccines

The government has bolstered the country’s pandemic preparedness thanks to a new deal which will grant the UK streamlined access to millions of vaccines in the event of an influenza outbreak.

The agreement between CSL Seqirus and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) means more than 100 million vaccines will be locally produced if a pandemic is declared by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Similar arrangements have existed in the past but this is the first time the manufacturing process will be solely based in the UK, which will ensure ease of access if global demand ever topples supply.

Any vaccines produced under this deal will be tested, licensed and tailored to combat the specific strain of flu that is causing the pandemic.

WHO would only declare a global influenza pandemic if the general population had no immunity against a strain that was transmitting from person-to-person around the world.

This is not the same as seasonal influenza which circulates annually or avian influenza (otherwise known as bird flu) which cannot be passed from human to human.

Vaccines minister, Maria Caulfield, said: “This deal with CSL Seqirus places us on the front foot if we are faced with an influenza pandemic in the future.”

She continued: “It will ensure vaccines are manufactured in the UK – enabling us to get jabs into arms fast regardless of global demand and save thousands of lives.”

Image credit: iStock

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NHE May/June 2024

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