Medical

Construction of vaccine manufacturing centre fast-tracked

Updated on Tuesday 21 April 2020, 1:17 PM

2 Minute Read

Construction of a facility that can mass-produce vaccines has started early as part of the national effort to tackle coronavirus.

Glencar Construction is main contractor of the £65m Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre in Harwell, Oxfordshire.

The 7,000 square-metre facility, which was announced in late 2018, will now open its doors in 2021, ahead of its originally scheduled date of 2022. The project is a collaboration between The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre, Harwell Campus, Vale of the White Horse District Council and government body UK Research and Innovation.

Groundworks began earlier this month and have focused on site clearance and preparation. In a statement, Glencar said the basebuild should be ready in July or August.

Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre CEO Dr Matthew Duchars said: “While no one could have predicted the COVID-19 outbreak, we are doing all we can to fast- track the build so VMIC is set-up to offer long-term support to the UK’s future vaccine needs while simultaneously contributing right now to the vital work that will help us emerge from this pandemic.”

He added that the centre’s team of engineers and scientists is also “working round the clock” on manufacturing options for possible vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, for which trials have recently started.

Acceleration of the building project was announced by business secretary Alok Sharma during Friday’s Downing Street press conference.

He said: ”When we do make a breakthrough we will be ready to manufacture a vaccine in the millions. One tool in this fight will be the UK’s first Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre based in Harwell, a project to help develop and mass-produce vaccines here in the UK. The government will be accelerating the building of this facility.

Producing a vaccine is a colossal undertaking, but the government is backing our scientists, betting big to maximise the chances of our success.

The centre will have 6,000 people working at it from 225 different organisations.

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