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Multi-million pound investment for Livingston vaccine facility
A manufacturing facility in Livingston, West Lothian, will be at the heart of efforts to produce a new coronavirus vaccine as part of a multi-million pound joint investment to secure early access to 60 million doses of Valneva’s promising vaccine candidate.
The joint investment, made between the UK government and global biotech company Valneva, will advance Scotland’s vaccine manufacturing capacity and support highly skilled jobs for scientists and technicians at the West Lothian site. Currently, more than 100 people are employed at the facility with a quarter of those working directly on a coronavirus vaccine. Researchers working on the vaccine’s manufacture are expected to grow in number by a further 75 as production gets underway.
If Valneva’s vaccine is proven to be safe and effective in clinical trials, the expanded Livingston facility could potentially supply up to 100 million vaccine doses to the UK and internationally.
Business secretary Alok Sharma visited Valneva’s facility in West Lothian on Wednesday 5 August, he said: “I’m incredibly grateful to our highly-skilled scientists and technicians in Livingston who are supporting the global effort to research, develop and manufacture a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine.
“The multi-million pound upfront investment we have agreed with Valneva today means that their vaccine can be manufactured in quantity right here in Scotland. If clinical trials are successful, millions of people in priority groups across the UK will be protected by their life-saving vaccine.”
David Lawrence, chief financial officer of Valneva, said: “We are delighted to receive initial funding from UK government to support the expansion of our Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing facilities. We are thrilled that the secretary of state has made the time to travel to Livingston and to visit our site, it’s a real sign of the government’s commitment. We are working as hard and as fast as possible to develop the vaccine to meet the UK’s needs and indeed to try to address the broader need for a vaccine. We look forward to completing the final supply agreement in the next few weeks.”
This latest deal follows a number of governments agreements to procure millions of doses of vaccines, ensuring the greatest possible chance of securing access to a safe and effective vaccine
The Livingston facility is in addition to the new Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), which is currently under construction in Oxfordshire. When completed in summer 2021, the facility will have flexible capacity to manufacture millions of vaccine doses at scale.
The UK government has also reached an existing global licensing agreement signed with AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford to research, develop and manufacture 100 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, as well as a partnership with BioNTech and Pfizer for 30 million doses if their trials are successful.
And just last week, a deal was reached with GSK and Sanofi to secure 60 million doses of their vaccine candidate, further boosting the UK’s chances of receiving access to an effective immunisation.
A further £40m government investment has been given to Imperial College London to develop their vaccine candidate, which is now being trialled with more than 200 people across 6 locations.