BRAINTREE is to spearhead the race to make millions of doses of vaccine to fight Covid-19.
The Government is pumping £100million into a state-of-the-art vaccine and gene therapy centre in the town.
The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Innovation Centre will have the capacity to produce millions of doses of vaccine a month when it opens in December 2021.
The initiative will upgrade an existing facility to create a fully-licensed manufacturing centre.
The Government says it will increase the UK’s ability to respond to diseases such as coronavirus and prepare for potential future pandemics, while creating new, high-skilled jobs to fuel the UK’s economic recovery.
The new centre will complement the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre currently being built in Oxfordshire.
Government Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “We are taking all necessary steps to ensure we can vaccinate the public as soon as a successful Covid-19 vaccine becomes available.
“This new Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Innovation Centre, alongside crucial investment in skills, will support our efforts to rapidly produce millions of doses of a coronavirus vaccine while ensuring the UK can respond quickly to potential future pandemics.”
The Government is spending an additional £4.7million on new training facilities and an online learning platform to boost vaccine and cell and gene therapy skills.
- Government Business Secretary Alok Sharma
As well as trying to produce a Covid-19 vaccine, the new Cell and Gene Therapy Centre will be at the forefront of the growing UK cell and gene therapy industry.
Scientists and researchers based in the centre will speed up the time taken for new treatments to be delivered to patients by developing cutting-edge therapies to treat life-changing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Employment in the cell and gene therapy sector is predicted to top 6,000 jobs by 2024, with more than 3,000 in manufacturing and bioprocessing.
Vaccines Taskforce chairman Kate Bingham said: “Today’s announcement is another important milestone for us. The work of the Vaccines Taskforce is focused on protecting the UK against Covid-19 through vaccination 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.
“The acquisition of this state-of-the-art manufacturing centre 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.”