Government buys £16million vaccine-making plant capable of producing millions of doses of anti-Covid drug every month – but it won’t open until December 2021
- Government will invest £100 million into existing facility in Braintree, Essex
- Centre was bought for £16 million from Benchmark Holdings, it was confirmed
- Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Innovation Centre opens 2021
The Government has bought a £16 million vaccine manufacturing facility as part of moves to ensure any successful anti-Covid-19 drug can be produced at scale in the UK.
Ministers today announced an additional £100 million will be invested in the new state-of-the-art centre to scale up Covid-19 vaccine and gene therapy manufacturing.
The investment will upgrade an existing facility to create a fully-licensed Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Braintree, Essex, which is due to open in December 2021.
The Government said the centre, bought for £16 million from Benchmark Holdings, will have the capacity to produce millions of doses a month, ensuring the UK has the capabilities to manufacture vaccines and advanced medicines far into the future.
The Government has bought a £16 million vaccine manufacturing facility as part of moves to ensure any successful anti-Covid-19 drug can be produced at scale in the UK (stock image)
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: ‘We are taking all necessary steps to ensure we can vaccinate the public as soon as a successful Covid-19 vaccine becomes available.
‘This new Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Innovation Centre, alongside crucial investment in skills, will support our efforts to rapidly produce millions of doses of a coronavirus vaccine while ensuring the UK can respond quickly to potential future pandemics.’
Peter George, chairman of Benchmark Holdings, said: ‘We were in the process of evaluating this sector when Covid-19 broke, and I am delighted that we have a long-term solution for the workforce, which has always been our desired outcome.’
Kate Bingham, who chairs the Vaccines Taskforce added: ‘Today’s announcement is another important milestone for us. The work of the Vaccines Taskforce is focused on protecting the UK against Covid-19 through vaccination as quickly as possible.
‘In order to vaccinate our high-risk populations at the earliest opportunity, the Government has agreed to proactively manufacture vaccines now, so we have millions of doses of vaccine ready if they are shown to be safe and effective.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: ‘We are taking all necessary steps to ensure we can vaccinate the public as soon as a successful Covid-19 vaccine becomes available’
‘The acquisition of this state-of-the-art manufacturing centre will not only help us with this, but also ensures we are well-placed as a country to be able to cope with any pandemics or health crises in the future.’
The Government added that employment in the cell and gene therapy sector is predicted to reach over 6,000 jobs by 2024, with over 3,000 in manufacturing and bioprocessing.
The facility in Braintree will open alongside the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), which is currently under construction in Oxfordshire after another £93 million investment from the Government.
Downing Street has also pledged an additional £38 million to establish a rapid deployment facility, opening later this summer, which will support efforts to ensure a successful vaccine is widely available to the public as soon as possible.
Matthew Durdy, CEO, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult said: ‘This commitment from the Government through the Vaccines Taskforce will enable continued growth and productivity in the cell and gene therapy sector, as well as providing vital resource for vaccine manufacturing and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘We are delighted to be able to deploy the specialist capabilities of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult in such an important initiative.
‘Accelerating the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, increasing skills and employment, and facilitating growth of the advanced medicines industry will make a valuable contribution to the recovery of the economy.’
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