The Prime Minister today visited the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC), which will start producing vaccines before the end of 2021, thanks to a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) investment of nearly £200 million.
The Prime Minister met with scientists, engineers, development, and construction teams at the construction site on Harwell Science and Innovation Campus where he talked about their response to COVID-19 and the fast tracking of the high-tech manufacturing facility.
VMIC, a not-for-profit organisation, will boost the UK’s strategic vaccine development and advanced manufacturing capability, accelerating vaccine development in the UK and providing a national emergency response for future pandemics. It will also be vital to the production of a COVID-19 vaccine when an effective target has been found.
VMIC was already in the planning and design stages as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Medicines Manufacturing Challenge delivered by UKRI, with the intention of producing a variety of vaccines for existing conditions, when COVID-19 struck.
Now, the facility at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire will come online a year earlier than originally planned through a further investment of £131 million by UKRI. Due to open in 2021, the permanent VMIC facility will have the capability to produce up to 70 million vaccine doses in four to six months.
Brilliant scientists are driving efforts
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said:
Brilliant scientists in Oxfordshire and around the UK are driving global efforts to develop a safe vaccine that works to defeat coronavirus. If one proves successful, we need to be ready to distribute it to the British people as soon as possible.
That’s why construction of VMIC, backed by £158 million from the government, is fully underway in Oxfordshire. When VMIC opens at Harwell, it will be able to manufacture enough vaccine doses for the whole UK population in as little as six months, which would transform how we beat this virus and prepare for future pandemics.
Ottoline Leyser, chief executive at UKRI, said:
VMIC is a major boost to the UK’s ability to fight diseases, ensuring sufficient vaccines get to the public in the fastest possible time.
But it’s also part of a unique research and development capability the UK is developing through a publicly-funded network of centres of excellence, catalysts and infrastructure that will allow us to meet today’s health challenges – and those of the future.
Dr Matthew Duchars, CEO of The VMIC said:
Today’s visit from the Prime Minister is testament to the incredible work being carried out by an exceptional team at VMIC and amongst our partners. Their work forms a vitally important part of the national response to COVID-19 as well as fast tracking the facility to bring it online in 2021. Once complete, the centre will be equipped to provide future pandemic response for the whole of the UK.
The government has demonstrated it is wholeheartedly committed to increasing the country’s vaccines infrastructure in order to strengthen the UK’s ability to not only provide a pandemic response capability, but also to discover and manufacture vaccines for a whole range of conditions. We look forward to being able to deliver on this as part of our day to day work, for the benefit of the UK and overseas.
Construction of VMIC
The VMIC project began in 2018 with funding of £65 million from UKRI’s ISCF and a further £10 million provided by its industry partners and other businesses.
In May 2020, UKRI announced a further £131 million investment, to speed up the construction of the permanent facility and create ‘virtual’ VMIC which could produce pandemic doses while VMIC was under construction. This brings UKRI’s total investment to £196 million.