Government buys 'state-of-the-art' vaccine manufacturing facility in Braintree

A vaccine manufacturing facility is to open in Essex in 2021 Credit: PA Images

The Government has bought a vaccine manufacturing facility in Essex as part of moves to ensure any successful Covid-19 vaccine can be produced at scale in the UK.

Ministers announced that an additional £100 million will be invested in the new state-of-the-art centre to scale up Covid-19 vaccine and gene therapy manufacturing.

The investment will fund a Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Braintree which is due to open in December 2021.

The government said the centre, bought from Benchmark Holdings, will have the capacity to produce millions of doses a month. It's hoped the UK has the capabilities to manufacture vaccines and advanced medicines, including for emerging diseases, far into the future.

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 investment will fund a Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Braintree. Credit: PA Images

Peter George, chairman of Benchmark Holdings, said: "We were in the process of evaluating this sector when Covid-19 broke, and I am delighted that we have a long-term solution for the workforce, which has always been our desired outcome."

The government added that employment in the cell and gene therapy sector is predicted to reach over 6,000 jobs by 2024, with over 3,000 in manufacturing and bioprocessing.

Kate Bingham, who chairs the Vaccines Taskforce said: "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."

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