UK-Supported Mfg Center To Expand Mfg for COVID-19 Vaccine Production
The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), a not-for-profit organization providing vaccine development and advanced manufacturing capability to the UK, has been awarded £131 million ($161 million) by the UK government to create a “virtual VMIC” to expand the UK’s capacity to manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine and to expand VMIC’s manufacturing capacity at a permanent facility that is currently being built.
The increased manufacturing capacity will enable production of 70 million vaccine doses in four to six months from opening of the new facility, a 20-fold increase from current levels. The facility is scheduled to come on line in the summer 2021.
VMIC has been awarded up to £131 million ($161 million) in two funding reviews: (1) £93 million ($114 million) to expand the facility’s capabilities and fast-track the build and (2) £38 million ($47 million) to create the “virtual VMIC.”
A “virtual VMIC” involves procuring manufacturing equipment, recruiting specialists, and securing physical space to create a temporary manufacturing center ready to make vaccines at pace and scale once a viable COVID-19 vaccine has been found. The virtual VMIC will be rolled out with industry partners and is supported by the UK’s national vaccines industry taskforce, which is coordinated by the BioIndustry Association, a trade association for life sciences in the UK.
Experts at VMIC have been working as part of the UK’s national taskforce, where they advise on how manufacturing COVID-19 vaccine candidates can be scaled up. They also play a role in the consortium led by the Jenner Institute at Oxford University, which is conducting clinical trials for its adenovirus vaccine candidate for COVID-19.
The permanent VMIC facility will be located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, UK. VMIC says it envisages that much of the work at the new facility will be through collaborative ventures with organizations ranging from small- and medium-sized businesses, through to large multinationals and nongovernmental organizations, such as Wellcome and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a public–private coalition that seeks to derail epidemics by speeding up the development of vaccines.