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Coronavirus vaccine manufacturing begins in Scotland
Speciality vaccine company Valneva has started commercial manufacturing of its promising Covid-19 vaccine candidate in Livingston, West Lothian.
This follows a multi-million pound joint investment in the facility by the UK government last year as part of an agreement in principle to secure early access to Valneva’s vaccine by the end of 2021. 60 million doses have already been secured for the UK, with an option to acquire a further 130 million if the vaccine is proven to be safe, effective and suitable.
This investment will now support 100 new highly-skilled jobs for scientists and technicians at the Livingston facility – doubling the workforce, and boosting the UK’s resilience in dealing with current and future pandemics by establishing a permanent vaccine manufacturing base.
Valneva’s coronavirus vaccine candidate is currently in phase I/II trials and will still need to meet the necessary safety and effectiveness standards and receive regulatory approval before it is rolled out at the end of the year. However, if it is approved, manufacturing at risk now will mean that the UK can roll the vaccine out across the country quicker.
Business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “Thanks to the UK Vaccine Taskforce, we have ordered up to 60 million jabs of Valneva’s promising vaccine if it proves to be safe, effective and suitable in its clinical trials this year. By starting manufacturing, we will have a running start at rolling these out as quickly as possible to protect the British public if it receives regulatory approval.”
The new facility establishes a permanent UK capability to manufacture inactivated viral vaccines – one of the most proven, widely used types which is also used for flu, polio and rabies jabs.
If the vaccine proves successful and receives regulatory approval following a rigorous assessment of available data, the Livingston facility will have the capacity to produce up to 250 million doses annually for shipment across the UK and around the world.
Scottish secretary, Alister Jack, added: “It’s incredibly exciting that a potential new Covid-19 vaccine will be manufactured right here in Scotland, at the Valneva plant in Livingston. This big step forward is a testament to the talent and hard work of all the Valneva staff who have worked so far to get to this stage. The UK government has invested millions into developing the Valneva vaccine, which is also supporting hundreds of highly skilled jobs in Scotland.”
Chief executive officer of Valneva, Thomas Lingelbach, said: “We are extremely pleased to have achieved these two important milestones in such a short period of time. Our team in Scotland have done an amazing job to get manufacturing started so quickly.”
Through the Vaccines Taskforce, the UK has secured early access to 367 million doses of seven of the most promising vaccines so far. To date, the UK government has invested over £230m into manufacturing a successful vaccine. The UK was the first country in the world to procure, authorise and then deploy both the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines.
Production of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine started last autumn where the bulk of the vaccine for the UK is being made in Oxfordshire and Staffordshire, with filling into vials taking place in North Wales.