UK and Moderna cement 10-year partnership to build vaccine facility
Image credit: reuters
The government has struck a deal with Moderna to create a new vaccine manufacturing facility in the UK which will provide NHS patients with Covid jabs and vaccines for other respiratory vaccines such as the flu.
The partnership will also create more than 150 jobs and “future-proof” the UK against potential pandemics, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
Plans for the centre were initially unveiled earlier this year when a government spokesperson said Moderna would make a minimum R&D investment of £1.1bn.
The centre, which will be able to produce up to 250 million vaccines a year, will see the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) working with Moderna to ensure early vaccine development, supporting the G7 mission to get from variant to vaccine in 100 days.
The centre will offer NHS patients access to Moderna’s Covid vaccines that can protect against multiple variants. It will also have the potential to develop vaccines targeting a range of other illnesses, such as flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Developing vaccines on UK shores means it will be able to scale up production rapidly in the event of a health emergency, DHSC said.
Health secretary Steve Barclay said: “This time two years ago, the UK was the first country in the world to administer a Covid vaccine outside of a clinical trial. Since then, countless lives have been saved across the world and more than 150 million doses have been given in the UK alone.
“It is vital we invest in fighting future variants of this disease as well as other deadly viruses that are circulating, such as seasonal flu and RSV, and this partnership with Moderna will also strengthen our ability to respond to any future pandemics.
“By boosting our onshore vaccine manufacturing capability, we are a step closer to becoming the leading global hub for life sciences. This partnership will support our crucial mission to protect the people of the UK and across the world through the development of revolutionary vaccines and research.”
Moderna worked closely with the Vaccine Taskforce during the pandemic, supplying Covid vaccines used throughout the rollout, including in the ongoing autumn booster campaign.
The company has now committed to funding UK-based R&D activities over a 10-year period including running a significant number of clinical trials in the UK. It has also pledged to fund grants for UK universities, including PhD places and research programmes.
Moderna’s Covid vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, uses mRNA technology which has proven to be one of the fastest routes to develop effective vaccines during the pandemic.
Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA chief executive, said: “Our scientists have been monitoring the evolution of the virus throughout the pandemic, and assuring continued protection for the population.
“This partnership will take the winning ways of working with industry and build the nation’s resilience, giving us rapid access to vaccines.”
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