LONDON — The United Kingdom intends to boost its vaccine-manufacturing resilience and bolster research in the field through a deal with Moderna that will see the United States-based biotech deliver its first made-in-Britain vaccines in three years.
Moderna will start to build both a new mRNA research-and-development center and a large manufacturing facility this year, the government announced in a statement.
It’s the first deal for some time for the U.K.’s Vaccines Taskforce — supported by the Office for Life Sciences — which was set up at the start of the pandemic to ensure a supply of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as to better prepare the country for future health threats.
The outlined agreement lays the groundwork for detailed talks with the intention of establishing a long-term partnership, the government said.
While the location of the facility and the terms of the deal were not disclosed, the government said the deal will provide U.K. patients with “guaranteed access to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine” and the ability to produce jabs targeting a range of other illnesses, such as flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
“We are bringing supercharged, home-grown vaccines right to our shores,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “I want the U.K. to be the brightest and best in research and technology, creating more jobs and securing our economic future,” he added.
The mRNA Innovation and Technology Center will develop new mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 that can protect against multiple variants, as well as build on existing mRNA research into cancer, dementia and heart disease.
Clinical trials will also be carried out in the U.K., as part of the deal. The manufacturing facility will also be able to scale up production rapidly in the event of a health emergency.