Medical scientist developing vaccines in laboratory

New investment to help UK become global leader in vaccine discovery

As the NHS launches its latest Covid-19 vaccination campaign, the Government is looking to establish the UK as the global hotbed of vaccine discovery with new investment for a Future Vaccines Manufacturing Hub.

Backed by fresh £12m funding from UK Research and Innovation, the hub is a cross-academic collaboration led by the University of Oxford and University College London that will build on the Vaccine Manufacturing Research Hub, which supported the production of one of the world’s first Covid-19 vaccines and aided the UK’s, and the world’s, pandemic response.

By drawing upon the expert insight of partners from all facets of the healthcare sector, the new hub is aiming to:

  • Deliver flexible technologies that can be used to create many types of vaccines;
  • Develop better vaccine manufacturing processes;
  • Initialise mass programmes of non-invasive vaccinations.

The University of Oxford’s Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert and University College London’s Professor Martina Micheletti will co-direct the hub.

“This funding will allow us to streamline our manufacturing process of next generation vaccines by using new and innovative responsive technologies and digitalisation tools, such as robotics and automation, that allow us to run faster lower volume studies and deliver quicker results,” Professor Micheletti said.

“This will enable us to minimise environmental impact by saving material and sharing resources.”

Despite the timely work of vaccine developers during the pandemic, Professor Gilbert believes there are “still many improvements that can be made in vaccine manufacturing.”

“In the next iteration of VaxHub we will work to increase sustainability of vaccine manufacturing by improving manufacturing yields, improving thermostability so that vaccines do not need to be refrigerated or frozen for storage and distribution, and assess alternative ways of making vaccines available for mass immunisation when needed,” she added.

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NHE May/June 2024

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