UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has visited the construction site of the rapidly developing UK’s Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.
Boris Johnson meets with scientists from the UK’s Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre currently under construction at Harwell Campus.
VMIC, a not-for-profit organisation will provide the UK’s first strategic vaccine development and advanced manufacturing capability that will accelerate vaccines development in the UK and also provide national emergency response for future pandemics.
The Prime Minister met with teams working at the forefront of the national response to COVID-19 – ranging from scientists and engineers advising on scaling up manufacturing of viable COVID-19 vaccines and establishing a rapid deployment centre, known as ‘Virtual VMIC’ to increase supply of the Oxford/AZ vaccine, which is currently in clinical trials to ensure its safety and effectiveness. He also met with design and construction teams fast tracking the development of the 7,400 sq m facility and who are working in an unprecedented effort to bring the high-tech centre online a year ahead of schedule.
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 is why construction of the Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre at Harwell, backed by £158million from the Government, is fully underway in Oxfordshire. When open, VMIC 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.”
Dr Matthew Duchars, CEO of The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre 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.”
Angus Horner, Harwell Science and Innovation Campus Director, said "It is hugely appreciated that the Prime Minister visited VMIC at Harwell today, to see and hear for himself about progress with the facility, as well as VMIC and Harwell’s multiple scientific COVID-19 initiatives.
“Additional to sovereign resilience against viral and other biological threats, Harwell and VMIC teams are working here every day to reinforce UK Science’s world leading position and to generate major economic and societal benefits for our Nation."
Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive at UK Research and Innovation, said: “The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre is an essential new weapon in the UK’s fight against diseases, ensuring sufficient vaccines get to the public in the fastest possible time. But it’s also part of a unique health 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.”
VMIC was established by the University of Oxford, Imperial College and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine with support from industrial partners, MSD, Johnson and Johnson and Cytiva, formerly known as GE Healthcare. The Centre’s initial funding came from a £65 million grant from UK Research and Innovation, as part of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, with a further £93 million in 2020 to expand the facility’s capabilities and fast track the build.