Flagship UK vaccine plant put up for sale

Wednesday 01st December 2021 08:39 EST

A flagship UK vaccine manufacturing centre that has been at the heart of the government’s efforts to prepare for future pandemics, and the recipient of more than £200m of public funding, is up for sale. Several companies have submitted bids for the Vaccine Manufacturing Innovation Centre at Harwell near Oxford, and government officials are examining the offers, according to people briefed on the situation.

The government announced the creation of the VMIC in 2018 to develop and make vaccines in the UK, as part of efforts to deal With future epidemics. The centre had been scheduled for completion in 2023 but at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic the date was brought forward to spring 2022. Pprime minister Boris Johnson visited it in September last year.
However, the need for a state-backed vaccine manufacturing centre has waned as pharmaceutical companies have stepped in to meet demand for Covid-19 jabs, according to people familiar with the VMIC sale process. “The worry was there would be a surge in vaccine manufacturing requirements [during the pandemic], and we’d need surge capacity, and that reason is gone,” said one person familiar with the efforts to offload the VMIC to the private sector.

The person added that additional investment was needed to complete the VMIC, and this could come from a buyer. The government has put at least £215m into the project through UK Research and Development, a state funding agency, and could now look to recoup some of that investment through the sale process. The VMIC, which is structured as a non-profit company, was originally set up by Oxford university, Imperial College London, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, plus industry partners that included Belgian pharmaceutical subsidiary Janssen and US drug group Merck. The academic institutions own shares in the VMIC.

comments powered by Disqus

to the free, weekly Asian Voice email newsletter