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As originally posted on the Gov.uk's website.
A manufacturing facility in Livingston, West Lothian, will be at the heart of efforts to produce a new coronavirus vaccine thanks to a multi-million-pound joint investment as part of an agreement in principle by the UK government 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.
The committed investment was highlighted by UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma on a visit to Valneva’s facility in West Lothian on Wednesday 5 August, ensuring the vaccine can be manufactured at scale to protect millions of people in priority groups, such as health and social care workers and those at increased health risk, across the United Kingdom if clinical trials are successful.
The Business Secretary will witness first-hand the ground-breaking work already taking place at the Livingston manufacturing facility and hear about the significant efforts being made to increase capacity at the site.
Welcoming the agreement ahead of his visit, Business Secretary Alok Sharma 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 up-front 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."
Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack said:
We are doing everything possible to keep people in all parts of the UK safe as we tackle the coronavirus pandemic. The UK government is purchasing millions of doses of coronavirus vaccine for distribution across all parts of the UK. A safe and effective vaccine is vital to the long-term protection against the virus we need. I’m particularly pleased that Scotland’s world class research sector is playing such an important role in developing a much-needed vaccine."
Chair of the Vaccine Taskforce Kate Bingham said:
The visit of the Secretary of State to Valneva’s Livingston facility today and the announcement of investment in their manufacturing capability underlines the importance of our ability to make a vaccine for COVID-19 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. This important investment in Valneva’s Scottish manufacturing plant 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."
Chief Financial Officer of Valneva David Lawrence 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."
The Livingston facility is in addition to the new Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) which is currently under construction in Oxfordshire thanks to further investment from the UK government. 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 for the British public, 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 £40 million 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.
VLA2001 is a highly purified, inactivated vaccine candidate against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that uses manufacturing technology from Valneva’s Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine. The inactivation process preserves the structure of the virus’ S protein and is expected to induce a strong immune response.
The 4 different vaccine classes that the government has secured to date for the UK are:
In addition the UK has secured rights to AstraZeneca’s antibody treatment to neutralise the virus which can be used both as a short term prophylactic for those people who cannot receive vaccines (for example cancer and immunosuppressed patients) and front line workers exposed to the virus, as well as a treatment for infected patients.