The UK is set to benefit from two fully operational rapid response vaccine manufacturing lines by later this month, after both of the ‘virtual Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centres (VMIC)’ manufacturing lines were approved by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
As part of the national response to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, virtual VMIC will be dedicated to manufacturing a Covid-19 vaccine once one is found to be effective and approved.
Supported by funding from UKRI, the new lines will enable the UK to establish a rapid deployment centre, or ‘virtual VMIC’ while the permanent VMIC facility is being built.
Virtual VMIC will manufacture a vaccine for Covid-19 ahead of the opening of VMIC’s permanent facility, which is also being fast-tracked, next year and will be will be located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma, said: “We need to be ready to manufacture a vaccine by the millions as quickly as possible if a breakthrough is made. Building up the UK’s capability to produce a COVID-19 vaccine at scale is an essential part of our pandemic response, which is why we have moved so quickly to establish a domestic manufacturing base from scratch. The approval of these two critical manufacturing suites will ensure we have even more capacity to protect the public as soon as a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.”
Andy Jones, Medicines Manufacturing Challenge Director at UKRI, added: “When we provided additional funding to both speed the building of VMIC and provide for a virtual manufacturing centre, we recognised that we needed both innovative approaches to vaccine development and the ability to deliver vaccines at speed and in volume. The approval, by the MHRA, of the manufacturing suites and VMIC equipment will ensure that a vaccine can rapidly be manufactured once an effective vaccine is approved.”