The UK government has signed a 10-year deal with Moderna to produce upwards of 250m vaccines a year in the event of a pandemic.
The investment will give NHS patients access to UK-made mRNA vaccines while a new innovation and technology centre will be created, with 150 highly skilled jobs.
In a major boost for the UK as a life sciences superpower, it will also boost health research and lead to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) working with Moderna in vaccine development.
The partnership, led by the Vaccine Taskforce , was announced in June of this year.
By producing vaccines in the UK, it will allow production to be massively scaled up in the event of a major health emergency, such as another pandemic or new covid variant.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay, said: “This time 2 years ago, the UK was the first country in the world to administer a COVID vaccine outside of a clinical trial. Since then, countless lives have been saved across the world and more than 150 million doses have been given in the UK alone.”
“It is vital we invest in fighting future variants of this disease as well as other deadly viruses that are circulating, such as seasonal flu and RSV, and this partnership with Moderna will also strengthen our ability to respond to any future pandemics.
“By boosting our onshore vaccine manufacturing capability, we are a step closer to becoming the leading global hub for life sciences. This partnership will support our crucial mission to protect the people of the UK and across the world through the development of revolutionary vaccines and research.”
The deal was heralded by Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of UKHSA, who said it “will now be taking this forward as a vital part of our preparedness against future respiratory virus threats, including COVID-19.”
“Our scientists have been monitoring the evolution of the virus throughout the pandemic, and assuring continued protection for the population. This partnership will take the winning ways of working with industry and build the nation’s resilience, giving us rapid access to vaccines. We look forward to working closely with Moderna and playing a key role in supporting the government’s ambitious life sciences strategy.”
Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna, said: “Our new state-of-the-art facility will bring mRNA manufacturing to UK shores, providing the UK public with access to pandemic response capabilities through Moderna COVID-19 vaccines and future respiratory virus vaccine candidates.”
Richard Torbett, Chief Executive, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said: “This partnership is fantastic news for British manufacturing and UK-based science and research. It is an important reminder that the Life Sciences Industry has the potential to be a key growth driver for the UK economy.”